Hiya i’m Mark French (aka Frenchie). I played bass guitar when Ian Stuart because moved to London to reform “Skrewdriver” from 1982 until 1984/85 when I left to join the Army. Before that I played in two South London skinhead bands “The Firm” and “The Elite” we played with “The Last Resort” and “Combat 84” back in the early days of the skinhead revival.
2. I noticed that you recently founded a new band. Can you introduce it?
The new band is called “Flathead FH:33” (a type of skrewdriver). We play some early “Skrewdriver” stuff that’s revamped like “Anti Social” and “Government Action”, but leave the later more political stuff alone. Our stuff is available on bandcamp for a listen or downloads and will soon be available on a double 6 track CD. We also have a facebook site to keep everyone up to date with gigs and whats going on.
We are playing in Italy this weekend (11 January 2014) then an all dayer in Scotland in March so were already getting bookings for this year which is good. We intend to reach more people around the world and see if we can break the stranglehold of the established music business which is hard work but needs to be done if theres such a thing as freedom of speech.
As ive said we have a double 6 track CD out this year and are writing new stuff all the time for the next album. We are getting a few offers of gigs in Europe which is good cos we’ve only been back on the circuit about 10 months so it’s nice to know people are interested.
4. Would you play ever in the Czech Republic? As you can imagine when someone says: Czech Republic?
We would love to play in the Czech Republic and anywhere that likes our stuff. Your countries have had its problems like ours over the years, but from what it’s a beautiful place wiv proud people.
Anti Social was always a favourite of mine, but I thought it needed bringing up to date a bit. All the band members have “Skrewdriver” songs they would like to cover and we try to do two or three at gigs however we don’t want to do too many and just be seen as a “Skrewdriver” covers band so concentrate on our own stuff. We do intend to cover one song on each CD we produce as a tribute to Ian’s work.
6. Most people know about you that you played as a bassist Skrewdriver around 1982. Can you tell what you are musically involved?
I was lucky to grow up in London when punk exploded so get so got to see a lot of gigs. I was a “Skrewdriver” fan so joining them was a bit of a dream. I’d been in a couple of bands before but this was a proper step up the ladder. Until then I’d written most of the lyrics/ music, but Ian wrote everything except the cover versions and we put our own little bass/ drums lead bits over the top to flesh out the songs.
7. Certainly a lot of people interested in the life of Ian Stuart. Can you tell us what was your view of man? And an interesting story?
Ian was a very intelligent funny and loyal mate to have. He never took himself to seriously and struggled wiv his fame. He had very strong beliefs and followed them through. We had some mad times coz we used to rehearse once a week then go to out drinking every weekend plus play gigs. Obviously he always had time to speak to anyone in the pub and we always had foreign skinheads staying at his bedsit and coming to rehearsals etc.
A good story was when a German film crew came to make a documentary in London and they drove us all over the place filming bits and pieces. Wew got so drunk at their expense that we kept giggling cos he hated cameras and they wanted us to come across as hard men but we couldn’t stop laughing which drove them mad.
Before going out to gigs etc Ian would gather us all together and make this speech: – “Tonight gentlemen we go out as mighty ale warriors, but we shall return as slobbering bear oafs” And we always did.
8. If you are now able to go back in time. It would be something you would like to change myself?
I wish I’d stayed in the band longer and we had not been ignored by the mainstream cos Ian’s music needed to be heard by more people. I also wish he hadn’t died so early, but I think he would be very pleased his legacy lives on today.
9. In an interview with you, I read that you were a long time out of the scene. Yet I ask. The British scene is pretty bankrupt. What do you see as the main reason?
Yes I was out of the scene for a long-time for various reasons. Now I’m back it seems very fragmented and it’s hard for bands to get gigs if they are seen as right wing or patriotic so there’s a very fine line to tread. There is a lot of shit on the internet from armchair warriors and freedom of speech is ok as long as you’re on “x factor” and say what they want you to say. Underneath it all the people are the same and just want bands that mean something to them and tell our stories of Britain not the establishments.
I love anything wiv a heavy baseline and find the energy is the same it’s just the instruments etc. have progressed, but it’s still the same message it the people playing to the people and singing stuff we understand. All music must change to remain in tune wiv what’s happening, but it’s still great to hear all the old stuff cos it’s still relevant today.
11. It is now December 2013, where we would be able to see in the near future?
Well we’ve got more people asking us to play this year and we will try to play anywhere for anyone who wants/ likes us. By next year we would like to have toured Europe hit the USA, but the internet is the way forward so watch this space for details.
I still like “Anti Social”, “Government Action”, “I don’t like you” from the first album. “Back wiv a Bang” means a lot cos it brings back great memories, but one of my favourites is “The Snow Fell” which I still think is a fantastic but very sad song.
13. Last words?
Fanx for getting in touch, sorry about the delay in getting back to you. Stay strong keep the faith and we hope to see you soon. Regards Frenchie (FH:33)
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