Since we stumbled upon Roy and conducted the first ever Red Beat interview,
the No Class controllers have maintained a firm interest in the music being made
under that moniker. The 12" Machines In Motion / Red Beat / More Or Less
Cut single on Malicious Damage records was followed in the summer of '81 by a 45
which saw the band's entry into the music biz proper: the release of Survival /
See on their own Manic Machine Products, which was succeeded by another 12"
single in February '82: Dream / Dream Dub. So, after a few phone calls and an unsuccessful
journey to their old squat in Talbot Road we finally arranged to meet the band
in their new flat in West 11. We met the band's original nucleus of Roy and Paul
Jones, singer and drummer respectively, together with Whiteley, their new
"Part of the reason why the last single (Dream) wasn't heard by as many
people as it could've been was the fact that the band split up. The other
members of the band .... we just couldn't get on with them. Things got to a
stage where there just wasn't enough creative thought being generated by all
four people, so it ended. We're still friends with them, there was no sort of
heavy .... we just exhausted the amount of energy, they exhausted ..... The band
is changing the whole time, and if the other people in the band don't change as
well, things start to stagnate, and we felt that was happening, so this is a new
"So many people in the music business have this idea that once you've
formed a band it has to stay together, which is a very traditional view of
things. I don't see that a band has to stay the same necessarily cos that is
imposing a limit on yourselves. The way I see Red Beat is that it has no limit.
Now we've got Whitely on guitar and we've got a German saxophone player."
I was interested to discover more about the sax player's style:
"No, he's not very conventional. In Germany you've gotta join the army
as part of your indoctrination into society once you leave school, but he
managed to get out of it by convincing the courts that he was insane; but during
the process he did go a little bit mad. He's manic. He saw himself as an eye in
the middle of a pyramid. He's tall ...... he looks like a Hitler Youth type.
"He's a really good sax player. He speaks fucking good English. It's
just good to get a different influence. Me (Roy) and Paul went out to Germany
and we had a really good time, a fucking laugh. We went to Berlin.
"They're all pretty politically minded, a lot of the kids. Things are
really changing out there."
Paul went on to illustrate the point further.
"It's a pretty fucked up country in a lot of ways. They're very
materialistic people. If you haven't got a Mercedes Benz then you're fucked. If
you've got a BMW then you're doing quite well, if you haven't .....
"We picked up a lot of the atmosphere of the place. It gives you a lot
of inspiration, travel. You don't necessarily have to do gigs - it's the people
you meet. We met a lot of really interesting people - particularly women - in
Berlin. They were driving us round in cars and giving us loads of dope. We wrote
a few songs out there that we're gonna record.
Despite having a new guitarist and a sax player, at the time of this meeting
a bassist continued to allude them:
"We've got a few in line, but it's just a question of deciding which
one. As soon as we decide we're gonna go to Wales for a few weeks and do some
Whitely, who incidentally originates from the land of leeks, went on to tell
"Up there it's a perfect rehearsal facility, it's a barn on top of a
mountain. It's quiet, we can get ourselves together, there's no
Although the previous band split and Dream wasn't heard by as many people as
it could have been "it sold all right" and the band have been making a
video for it:
"It didn't quite turn out exactly as planned. Pretty manic sort of film,
when it comes out, cos we've got this guy called Patrick with a
video-synthesizer who's got access to really good editing facilities. He makes
this video magazine called Vidzine. We can't really afford to do it, so we've
gotta wait until he's got some free time."
When I asked where the film was going to be shown, the band said they didn't
"We're just doing it for ourselves. The single was pointless, it wasn't
created with any intent of being commercial; the video is the same. It just
complements the music. We're not thinking we're gonna get it shown on Top of the
The reason for putting a dub version of Dream on the B side of the 12"
single was because
"Dream Dub just happened in the studio. We decided we'd like to have a
dub version, even if it was just for ourselves, and it turned out so good that
we decided to release it. It only took about five minutes to mix that
It is possible that the band will be recording dub versions of their songs in
the future, and are also considering employing a producer for the first time:
"I found this producer, we might use him. He's a Rastafarian. He's
pretty good. We might use him on our next single. Producers work in the studio
for twelve hours a day, so they know when it comes to recording sounds what
sounds good on record, so you can take that knowledge from them and use it to
your own advantage."
We also mentioned Majid Ahmed, Red Beat's first bass player.
"He was really into sound. He became our sound man, rather than our bass
player. It suited him better. He didn't feel comfortable playing bass with the
band. He did some engineering on Survival and See, particularly on the drum
sound. We could well use him in the future on some of our stuff. He has an
amazing knowledge of electronics, that was his real art. He knew all about
circuitry and he started designing some stuff for studios."
Talking further about producing,
"You use the machinery to bring about it's own death. I think that
technology is gonna fucking backfire on itself sooner or later. You have to
manipulate it, you can't ignore it. Whenever we record, we record it one take
live in the studio, and anything that happens between then and it coming out on
record is our form of production. We're not the sort of band that fucking lays
down the backing track in New York, then shifts to Outer Mongolia to do the
mix-down and does the overdubs in Berlin and all that sort of shit."
Even the vocals are done with the rest of the song:
"When we record, we record, we don't fucking mess about."
When discussing the more business orientated side of Red Beat, they appear
to be in quite a healthy position.
"We turned down three
publishing deals from Warner Bros, Cherry Red and Beggar's Banquet because they weren't good enough. With Rough Trade we've got
total control over what we do. If we were to sign to someone like Warner Bros
they'd want a percentage and they'd want you to be their little puppets on a
"We have a record company (Manic Machine Products). We are the managing
directors of our own record company. There's no actual publishing deal but Rough
Trade pay us 100% mechanical royalties, which is good. If we were to sign to
someone they'd want to take about 40% which is rip off. They don't do anything
According to Paul he is in a band to satisfy his "own true self",
to enable him to be as creative as he wants to be, with no restrictions, and he
chose music as opposed to drama, for example, because it is his opinion that
"music is the highest form of art" to which Whitely added "music
performed live, and well" hence the playing of gigs was was brought into
"We'll probably be playing in Berlin by Christmas ('82). What gigs we
did we chose. We didn't do any gigs that we thought were gonna be shit gigs, cos
there's no point in doing them. The last gig we did was The Venue, that was OK.
Roy started chopping up the PA with a sword. We created a very good atmosphere.
Read the first ever Red Beat interview in issue one of No Class