The Return of the Buzzcocks
Wednesday 18 June @ 12:51:21
by Holly Day
Formed in Manchester, England, in 1975, the Buzzcocks were one of the most influential bands to emerge in the initial wave of punk rock. For a while, before the advent of the second wave of punk rock, they were also one of the faster bands out there, with frontman and guitarist Pete Shelley leading the band on with his rapid-fire three-chord changes and highly sardonic lyrics.
The Buzzcocksí sixth and newest album, simply titled Buzzcocks (Merge Records), features both Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle on guitar and vocals, Tony Barber on bass, and Philip Barker on drums. Shelleyís voice may have dropped a few octaves over the years, but itís still unmistakably him behind the sparkling wit that made the Buzzcocks so likeable in the first place.
PULSE: How did you get into playing music?
PETE SHELLEY: How did I get into playing music? I remember, there was an entry in my diary, from January the 4th, 1970, and the entry read, ďToday, itís raining. Iíve decided to learn to play the guitar.Ē SO I suppose I started playing music because it happened to be a rainy day. My brother had an acoustic guitar, which my parents had bought for his birthday, but he had never really took up. I picked up a book that showed me how to put together a few chords, and on that fateful, rainy day, I guess I just sat down and taught myself how to play the guitar. From then on, I was hooked.
PULSE: What were your musical influences growing up?
SHELLEY: Well, I suppose all sorts of things. I had a transistor radio, growing up in the mid- to late- Ď60s, and I used to listen to all the pop music of that time. I didnít come from a musical family or anything. No one in my family was particularly musical.
PULSE: Before the Buzzcocks, I read you attended the Bolton Institute of Technology. What were you going to school for?
SHELLEY: I started off studying electronics, just basic stuff, and then I decided to do a complete about-face and study humanities, which was philosophy and comparative European literature. I think there was some poetry mixed in there, too, or maybe I was just writing a lot of poetry back then and have that confused with what I was supposed to be doing in school. I do enjoy the science of technology, and embrace technology, but studying it in school wasnít much fun for me. I do have a studio at home now, which is all computer-based, and I have a lot of fun playing around in there when Iím supposed to be doing other, more important things.
PULSE: So with the new record, is there a theme or an idea that ties it together?
SHELLEY: I suppose thereís a fair share of angst in it. So far as anything beyond that, the general feeling of angst and alienation and all that, thereís no specific idea behind it all. I suppose now, as much as any time, itís the time of making decisions, and any decision that you follow through on is going to change your life. So I guess the album is about that: agonizing about which decisions are the right choice.
PULSE: What is it about the Manchester (England) area that makes people so angry? It seems like there are a lot of angry people from that area.
SHELLEY: Theyíre angry? (laughs) Well, I suppose lifeís just never a bowl cherries, right, and there are certain types of people from certain areas that arenít afraid of voicing their dissentóI suppose Manchester could be one of those areas with those kind of people in it. I myself grew up about 13 miles outside of Manchester proper, so perhaps thatís why Iíve always been a little more reserved about my angry points of view. Or do you think I seem like Iím angry, too? Maybe? Really, though, itís always that life is harsh. Thatís the reason that we were thrown out of Edenóthis world is sort of our punishment, right?
PULSE: So where do you live now? And is it a happier place?
SHELLEY: Iím in London now. Iíve been there about eighteen years now. Happier? I donít knowóI guess itís fine. It lets me live my life the way I want to live it, and thatís good. Any big cityís good for that.
The Buzzcocks play Thu., June 19, at the Quest Club. With Billy Talent and Army of Freshmen. 6 p.m. $17.50 adv. / $20 door. All-Ages. 110 N. 5th St., Mpls. 612-338-3383.