No Class talks to Gareth Davies, the bass player with early 80s anarcho punk band, Anthrax.
How did you get involved with Crass?
I think we were recommended by Conflict, who we used to play lots of gigs with at the time. Also Oskar (singer), sent out our Demo and Penny Rimbaud phoned him at his Mum's. We were only seventeen to nineteen at the time.
Who was your best mate in Crass?
Didn't really get that close to Crass, only in the studio and that was just Penny and John Loder who was the studio owner and the partner to Penny in Crass Records.
How did the artwork for the Crass Records single get produced?
Crass let us produce our own artwork. Dee's (lead guitar) brother has a friend who is an excellent artist. He does a lot of book illustrations for a living: his name is the Tasty M. He was not a punk, being a lot older than us. We described what we wanted and, bingo. He also did a lot of the artwork on the Small Wonder single. Rumour has it that the picture on the front is me. The only thing Penny insisted on was the circle of writing that all the singles have on them.
What was the band's view of the final artwork?
We thought the artwork was brilliant. In fact Crass asked M to do art for them. They did not know he was a professional.
I still think the Crass single is good and I am grateful to Crass for the chance and effort they put in to it, having said that it was well over produced, in a good way. We realised we could never achieve that much sound. Live we had to get another guitarist to strengthen the sound. Enter Shaun, another one of my school friends.
Small Wonder was more how we actually sounded. Pete Stennet (Small Wonder owner) wanted raw power. He didn't mind it being out of tune or time in a few places. I was not the best bass player in the world and used to get quite nervous in the studio, in fact I think Crass re-did a lot of my bass part on the single because it was pretty crap. After Anthrax I practiced my nuts off and had lessons from a jazz muso I know and actually got quite good.
What did your families think of you as full time punks?
My Mum and Dad never said a word about anything that I did, which was strange because neither of them had any interest in any teenage rebellion even when they were young. My family let me do what I wanted, I also think my brother was doing all the bad things so I kind of got ignored.
Every body else's parents were the same. We all came from working class households and all grew up together in the villages around Gravesend. Oskar is still one of my best friends and we have known each other since we were eight. I think that's why a lot of the songs are about things that oppress people who are basically trying to earn a living. We were full time punks but we all had jobs except Dee who was doing endless A levels.
What do you do for a living, now?
I am an engineer with Thames Water pumping London's poo around the sewers. Oscar is a roofer-come-handyman, Dee is a lawyer - hence the A levels, Shaun is a builder-come-maintenance man and Pete (drummer) manufactures metal work and electrical circuit boards for his Dad, or he did when I last spoke to him. I was in a lot of bands after Anthrax: never got anywhere, just a hobby. Shaun plays semi-pro doing a lot of rock. None of us made any money then or since from music but that was not the point.
Where are you based now?
We all still live around the Gravesend area: I have my own house and a wife who also used to be in various bands with and without me. Still very much punk on the inside. I think it was a frame of mind rather than anything to do with fashion or trends or rebellion. I have a thirteen-year-old son who is a grunger / punk so I get to hear lots of things. My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Kaiser Chiefs and Muse I like a lot. I listen to XFM a lot during the day.
* 81 Demo (Tape)
* They've Got It All Wrong (EP) (P.P.B. / Got It All Wrong / Exploitation / What Will Tomorrow Bring? ) (Small Wonder Records, 1982)
* Capitalism is Cannibalism / Violence is Violence / Prime to Pension / All Things Bright and Beautiful (Crass Records, 1982)
* "All the Wars" on Bullshit Detector Volume 2 (various artists compilation album, Crass Records, 1982)
* "Capitalism is Cannibalism/Violence is Violence" on A Sides. Part Two. 1982-1985 (various artists compilation album, Crass Records 1985)
* "Violence Is Violence 82" on We Don't Want Your Fucking War (LP Compilation, Fightback Records, 1984)
* "It'll be alright on the night" on Who What Why Where When (CD Compilation, Mortarhate Records, 2006)
* "They've Got It All Wrong" on Small Wonder: Punk Singles Collection Vol 1 (CD Compilation, Cherry Red Records, 2003)
* "What Will Tomorrow Bring?" on Small Wonder: Punk Singles Collection Vol 2 (CD Compilation, Cherry Red Records, 2003)
New releases from the reformed Anthrax are detailed and available from the band's own website (please see link above).
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