Stage Monday, February 15th

'How do you sex a Dalek?': Punk poet Attila The Stockbroker to perform in Hereford

Attila the Stockbroker has spent 35 years touring the world as a self-sustaining DIY one man cottage industry. He's performed more than 3,000 gigs in 24 countries, released 40 LPs/EPs/CDs and seven books of poetry.

This weekend the renowned performance poet, musician, activist, and Brighton and Hove Albion fan is making a rare appearance in Hereford.

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Launched into public consciousness by John Peel in the early 1980s, and initially the support act for bands including The Jam, The Alarm, and New Model Army, Atilla's own support acts have included the Manic Street Preachers, Julian Clary, New Model Army and Billy Bragg.

He has led his 'medieval punk' band Barnstormer for 20 years - but he did his first ever punk gig as bass player in Brighton Riot Squad in 1977 at the Vault.

Not content with working as a poet and musician he has also made his mark as a journalist, having written for NME, Sounds, Time Out, The Guardian and The Independent. He currently writes a regular column for the Morning Star.

Ahead of his gig at The Booth Hall in Hereford, we spoke with the force-of-nature wordsmith and yes, Hereford United fans, we asked him about THAT day nearly 20 years ago.  

Describe your political views in three words.

Socialist, social, surrealist.

You were a clerk for a stockbroker for a time. Were your political opinions formed before you did this job or were they a result of doing it?

My political opinions were ignited at age 14 during the 1972 Miners’ Strike and formed by my involvement in Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi league in the early punk era, 1976 onwards.

Russia has been a theme in your work (Russians in the DHSS, Russians in McDonalds). Why the fascination with it?

I was briefly ‘fascinated’ by it between 1982 and 1984 when the right wing press were ‘fascinated’ too. Now they are ‘fascinated’ by immigrants I am ‘fascinated’ by them instead. (See next question.)

In general, I am ‘fascinated’ by how many people soak up the rubbish they read in the right wing press, and by the fact that some people believe that there is any actual freedom of the press in this country, rather than the freedom of three billionaires to shove their opinions down the public’s throats via hordes of brown-nosing toadies masquerarding as journalists.

In your poem ‘Asylum Seeking Daleks’ you satirise the attitude of parts of the press to immigration but what would you do if one turned up on your doorstep?

Invite him/her in (How do you tell? How do you sex a Dalek?) and introduce him to my pet corn snakes Napoleon and Emma.

How many gigs are you doing this year? Is the current tour promoting your autobiography ‘Arguments Yard’?

About 100 and you know it is!

Talking about arguments what is the most volatile political discussion you ever had?

With Ian Stuart from fascist band Skrewdriver during a Black Flag gig at the 100 Club. It’s in the book.

Here’s a scenario for you: As a young man you meet the girl of your dreams but you find out she does not share your political leanings. Do you break off the relationship?

No, I convert her. Obviously. Cos I’m right and she’s wrong!!

Where did the name Attila the Stockbroker come from?

A stockbroker in the office I worked in in 1980 told me I had the manners of Attila the Hun. A light came on in my head. The rest is 35 years of history.

We saw a photo of you wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Adrian Mitchell’s line that 'most people ignore poetry as most poetry ignores most people'. If it’s ignoring most people who is it aimed at?

To use a ridiculously clumsy mixed metaphor, the kind of poetry Mitchell was describing is aimed at a tiny group of pseudointellectual ‘critics’ sitting too far up their own arses in a wine glass strewn ghetto.

Is it true you once stood in for Donny Osmond at a gig? What were the circumstances around this? Please tell us you did not launch into a rendition of ‘Puppy Love’.

Yes. It’s in the autobiography, and I am not giving the game away here. Once again, please come to the gig for the full story......

At your gig in Hereford are you going to be singing as well as reading your poems?

I can’t sing, but I will be.

You are well known as a fanatical supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion. Were you there on the fateful day of May 3 1997 when the club relegated Hereford United at Edgar Street? Can you describe the atmosphere at that ‘winner takes all’ game?

Of course I was. It was by far the most memorable match I have ever been to and the high spot of 52 years as a Brighton fan. I was one of the leaders of the campaign to save the club, we had just kicked out the scum who were destroying it and given that our ground had been sold and we were going to be spending the next X-number of years (two actually) playing ‘home’ games at Gillingham, a round trip of 140 miles, we HAD to stay in the football league. We did it.

I had a gig at the Barrels afterwards, organised by Chris from ‘Talking Bull’ fanzine a few months earlier, when Hereford were mid-table and we were about 20 points adrift at the bottom. He was so gutted he didn’t stay for the gig (I understood why.)

It was one of those nights where I was so p---ed I don’t know how I managed to do a set, but I did! (I have organised my gigs around our away fixtures for over 30 years incidentally, not always possible, but I manage about 15 out of 23 on average). 

I had no idea that the effect on Hereford would be so catastrophic, and am very pleased that you now have control of the club and are setting all kinds of records. Just a shame that it took so long.

In the 1990s you toured with John Otway. John has performed in Hereford several times. I saw him at The Barrels in the mid-1990s and in his own self-deprecating fashion he told the audience how proud he was of his hit ‘Really Free’. What one piece of work fits into that category for you?

Without doubt, my autobiography. I am really proud of that. Every single review so far has been brilliant. And that is a first for me. When my debut album came out in 1983 the NME said it would rather gnaw through its own arm than listen to it again. So it’s nice to have the balance redressed over 30 years afterwards!

Attila the Stockbroker's gig at The Booth Hall takes place this Sunday from 7pm. Ticket info here.

 

Attila The Stockbroker will play The Booth in Hereford on February 21. Tickets cost £7 and the performance starts at 7pm.

Find out more about Atilla at www.attilathestockbroker.com.

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