weekly updated blog for Oi! – punk – ska – reggae
Red Alert are a band that probably don’t need an introduction anymore. They are one of the few bands from the first wave of Oi! who didn’t quit during the late 80ies. Their We’ve Got The Power album became an instant classic and numerous excellent albums and EP’s followed since that one. All questions were answered by Steve Cast Iron Smith (vocals).
December 2013 – band website
i won’t bother you to ask about the complete band history, but to those who still don’t know you, can you please introduce the band?
Red Alert was formed in Sunderland, North East of England in May 1979. After a few months of playing local gigs we recorded our first demo tape. This became our first EP, known in some circles as the Border Guards EP, but it never had a title. We self financed it and only 250 copies were pressed. One recently sold on ebay for over £700. Not long after we recorded the In Britain demo. This led to an appearance on the Carry On Oi album for which our track SPG was used. This brought us to the attention of No Future records and we recorded three 7″ records, one 12″ EP and an album over the next two years: In Britain EP, Take No Prisoners EP, City Invasion single, There’s a Guitar Burning 12″ EP and the We’ve Got The Power LP.
After the demise of No Future not long after our last release we recorded a six track demo with plans to do another six and release another album. Due to a number of reasons, partly most of the band becoming fathers and a lack of interest between the band we quit in 1985.
Four years later we decided to begin rehearsing again for a one off local gig. This went so well that we decided to give it another go. Since then we’ve released a number of albums, singles and EP’s and toured worldwide every year to this day. Only myself, Steve Cast Iron Smith remains as an original member.
If i’m not mistaken you recently moved to Catalonia in the Spanish state. What does this mean for Red Alert’s future?
After years of playing in Barcelona and really loving the place, this year me and my wife decided to move there. It certainly doesn’t mean the end of Red Alert, just less rehearsal time. We’re still in regular contact and booking gigs. The rest of the lads are in other bands anyway so it gives them more time with that.
Next year you’ll have your 35th anniversary, any special plans to celibrate?
Originally we were gonna do one big tour but logistically this would have been difficult, plus some of the guys have jobs which meant they couldn’t take large amounts of time off in one go. So at the moment we’re organising a lot of smaller trips, weekend tours in different countries.
Obviously if something further afield such as USA happens then we’ll do a longer tour in those countries.The dates are coming in regularly and will be announced when confirmations are made.
Earlier this year you released a split 10″ with your friends from Halbstarke Jungs & Loudmouth. You used the same songs as on your split LP from 2010. Where you unsatisfied with the orignal pressing?
It’s just the same recordings. Basically we had no new material recorded and time was tight so we just chose three songs from our previous release.
Judging by your giglist Germany became your new home turf. Is there much difference between the audiance in Germany and England?
When we first started to play Germany in the early 90’s there was a big difference, more political, probably still is. Our UK audience is mainly about just getting drunk and caring about nothing, there’s more emphasis on politics in Germany, we’re fine with both.
In the past you only took care of the lyrics while the guitarists write the music. How did you managed to maintain an own sound?
From day one I wrote all the lyrics, still do, and guitarist Tony van Frater wrote all the music. It was a good formula, it worked for us. After Tony left and Michael Jones took over, Michael knew the kind of songs that Red Alert write and he just carried that on, very well too in my opinion.
You’re a proud Bon Jovi fanatic. Please enlighten us about his music…
The Bon Jovi thing started out as a laugh on tour. We were always listening to different kinds of music, even back when we started. My favourite two singers were always Freddie Mercury and Rod Stewart, still are, and we were never afraid to admit that we didn’t listen to punk rock 24/7 although this was the music that inspired us to form a band.
It just happened that me and Tony liked Bon Jovi when they came around. Personally I just like what I consider good tuneful music, i don’t care who’s doing it, even boy bands, whereas Tony was always into rock music, that’s kinda how we both started listening to Bon Jovi.
The joke started when we would play all of their ‘live’ tapes in the van on tour, we would just laugh at some of the shit they say on those tapes,s hit such as “do you believe in the church of rock n roll” and we would play a gig that night and copy this stupid talk, but I have to admit we were fans, not so much now but back then that music entertained us on those long drives. This didn’t apply to all of the band, on one tour they threw the tapes from the van as we drove down the autobahn, bastards, hahahaha.
Do you have any closing comments?
Just like to say a massive thanks to everyone for help and support over the years,hope to see you all next year at some of the 35th anniversary gigs, cheers!
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