Interview: Fair Do’s

It’s hard to really describe Fair Do’s. But what can be said about them is that they’re ridiculously good fun. Kitteh caught up with the four piece skate-tech-punk-insertyourfavouredgenrehere band at a punk/hardcore all dayer in Grimsby to quiz them on their DIY spirit, exactly what they play and our all time favourite question – who would win a knife fight with a bear?

If I may paraphrase the great Cilla Black- what’s your name and where do you come from?

Josh: I’ll take this one if you don’t mind. We’re Fair Do’s and that and we’re from Manchester and Rosendale. They’re two places from the North. You might have heard of them.

Danny: I’m Danny and I play guitar and do lots of other little bits.

John: (deadpan) I’m John and I play drums.

And the enthusiasm clearly comes from you, John.

Josh: He’s the driving force of all fun times in the band.

Danny: We fall asleep and we wake up where we need to be. Then he stops being enthusiastic. He’s enthusiastic about things not slowing down on the motorway.

Fair Do’s is quite a chirpy name

Josh: Chirpy? It is indeed-

Compared to a lot of bands that you often find yourself billed with; bands like Hang the Bastard-

Josh: We’re a fun time band for fun time people.

That sounds a little too much like a prostitution ring.

Josh: Nah, we’ve played in a lot of bands, but when it came down to Fair Do’s – Danny came up with the name – it does suit the band well. I mean you can come up with a name, then have to spend ten minutes explaining the meaning to them, then afterwards they just say ‘fair do’s’. Literally, that’s the craic.

Danny: The thing is though, when we named our band Fair Do’s, nobody said ‘fair do’s’, they just started asking what ‘Fair Do’s’ meant! It’s difficult to explain. You always have to give them a scenario, then end it with ‘fair do’s’. But you know what, it’s been on the Mighty Boosh, it’s been on Peep Show; it’ll be in the dictionary soon…WITH an apostrophe. Essentially, everyone knows what ‘fair do’s’ means, and i’m not saying it’s because of us… But we said it before it was cool. We were in a band that wore black shirts and red ties before it was cool. We’ve been doing it for ages.

You hardly play an identikit sound, so would you put yourself into a specific genre?

Josh: There isn’t really a genre, it’s just fast and aggressive!

John: Most people would call us skate punk first off, but we’re too technically able to be classed as that. We’re more melodic hardcore as opposed to a skate punk band who play five chords.

Josh: Aggressive disco.

Danny: The way I think about it, there are bands such as NOFX that have little Bill and Ted bits – bands like Almeida and Darko. You’ve got your standard punk, then you’ve got your ‘wibblywibblywoo’ bit. The thing with Fair Do’s is that we all listen to different shit, so it comes in from different areas.

Danny: We’ve all come from the same areas, you know, we were all listening to Strung Out, Death By Stereo- but then we got into a lot of metal. Take Strung Out, they have a lot of metal guitars, slightly lower tuning. They tune full D, we tune drop D, it’s just as low-

Josh: We also always have more aggressive singing. We go for a more intense singing. It’s not as though we don’t go for the more melodic singing-

Danny: We love melody, but to quote John, we don’t love poncery.

John: Poncery, poncery, we can’t do poncery.

Danny: Well if you’ve seen us with Sean (ex-vocalist), when he joined we re-did an old song to make it more melodic. But then we have friends who are in really fast, heavy hardcore bands and they saw it as us changing our entire sound, and started saying that they preferred us before. It’s just one song. We’re varied.

Do you think that saying that you’re influenced by metal is now a bit of a dirty word?

Josh: Not at all. When we say ‘metal’, it’s a gigantic fucking circle with so many bands in it. Take me and John for example. We like bands like Necrophagist, Black Dahlia Murder obviously – there a big influence for us. Take the Black Dahlia Murder; there a huge influence for us. I mean they’re well fast all the time – I mean they’ve got blasts and all that, but they’re still punk. It’s more like we’re not going to make songs about jumping around and going to shows, (terrible American accent) ‘yeah man, we’re at a show, everything’s so awesome’. We appreciate bands that do that, but it’s just not us.

Danny: This is an exclusive, but our songs aren’t really about anything. They just sound like they are! There’s one or two, but you’ve got to guess ‘em. They’re the sound that they are. There’s a song that I wrote in fifteen minutes as Bury College that was utterly ridiculous-

Josh: But at the same time, you can still get deepness from it. Because it’s up to you what you gain from it.

Danny: But on top of that question, we do get compared to Wilhelm Scream a lot. I don’t mind that at all, although I think we’re a bit more metal and a lot less tight than Wilhelm Scream.

Josh: I know what you mean though, about metal being a dirty word. Scenes move. When Nu-Metal came about, when people heard the buzzword ‘metal’ they thought ‘oh yeah, like Papa Roach’, no, no. Nowadays if you ask people about metal, they’re more likely to have heard of the Black Dahlia Murder over Limp Bizkit.

Danny: But it can also be a problem. Nowadays, if some people hear a melody, they think ‘oh, that’s emo’.

Josh: One thing we don’t like is to mix screaming with singing. It’s not that we don’t like bands that do that, it’s just that we want to create a general aura.

Whatever you do, you’re going to get pigeon-holed as hardcore or punk…

Josh: Then when people come up to you, they’re all ‘I think you’re like this, I think you’re like that’, then they ask you what you think you are. I just think, I don’t know mate, I’m playing folk music. You can see it in lots of Dance Music. You hear something, ask what it is, then they tell you it’s ‘fidgity cracky house’.

Danny: Jungle-break-core!

You gig a hell of a lot nowadays, into Europe and whatnot, and you’re usually put onto bills with similar artists, so you’re aware of what much of the scene is like nowadays. Would you say there are any particular forerunners at the moment?

Danny: Almeida are number one. A Wilhelm Scream are the best band I’ve ever seen, but Almeida are one of the best bands in the fucking country.

Josh: One of the first gigs we played was in Bognor, and Almeida were on afterwards, and we just stood there thinking ‘ah, wait, that’s what we want to do’. But there are loads of other bands that’re doing well for themselves, like Darko. The Fear are absolutely smashing it.

John: Bells on Records are good friends of ours, so we’re always around their bands.

Josh: There’s not so much a scene around at the moment, just a huge group of friends.

Danny: We met Laughing In The Face Of on tour. They play fast shit, melodic, banging. You meet a band, you play with them- between 95/99% of the time, you can watch a band and know that they’ll be really nice lads.

Josh: There are no real bands we think are shit, but I will say one thing. If you’re playing music and someone’s come to watch you, give them the time of day. If you’re in a band, talk to everyone. When you’re waltzing ‘round, you might look sick with your ears and your tattoos and your vest, but none of that matters.

Danny: I just realised how much shit we’re talking. In answer to your question, The Human Project, The Fear, Almeida, and they’re not around anymore but Sick Trick, From The Tracks, Drones.

Aside from record labels and all of that, I’ve seen Fair Do’s a few times before and you’ve always been armed with a stack of CDs to sell for a quid. Do you think the DIY ethos is the only way to keep young bands alive today?

John: The problem is, there are just so many people doing the same thing you do at the same time. You need to make yourself accessible. Fair enough if you can give your stuff out for free, but just charging a quid for four or five songs isn’t much. It’s nice when people take an interest in you, but more often than not, you’re wandering ‘round a venue, trying to force your merch on people. It’s not nice to do, but you have to do it.

Danny: It’s not nice, but when you’re on tour and you need fuel in the tank, and you’re away for many more weeks, it’s hard. You plough money into merch, and you always end up coming home with loads of t-shirts.

Josh: We’ve got a stack of CDs, we’ve copied them, put a sticker on them, and that’s it. We’re just trying to sell you the music. Hopefully in the future, everything will look well sick with CD sleeves and everything, but we’re not there yet.

John: That’s the harsh reality of being in a band. It’s not easy to buy all the things you need; fuel, instruments, a van, it’s not cheap. We don’t sit on our arses, thinking of songs to write; we work 9-5 all week and put our own money into our own products so we can give them away cheaply.

Danny: Take our EP, we’ve been working on that for god knows how long-

John: That’s the thing, you can get stuck in a rut, while you’re still itching to get them out. Who will do it for you if you’re not doing it yourself?

Josh: You need to spend money to make money. You should never set out to make money, just to get more people into your band. People spend fifty quid on a night out, fuck that.

John: Just make sure, if there’s a gig in your local town, just go. Give a few quid to the bands, buy a sticker; anything. We could be going out at weekends, hunting foxes and killing badgers, but we don’t. Just support music.

At Crash Doubt, your then vocalist turned up in a Kelly Clarkson t-shirt, which was great, but he stood out like a sore thumb in amongst all the muscle shirts and all that goes with it. Especially in terms of image, do you think hardcore is taking itself too seriously nowadays?

All: Yes!

John: I mean, we like to have fun, and we’re not a hardcore band that’s going to stand there with X’s tattooed on our chests.

I saw Brotherhood of the Lake play earlier this year, and their vocalist turned up in a balaclava, looking very IRA.

John: I don’t see the point of making a statement with your image when you could be making it with your music.

Josh: We’ve turned up to Lordi and Crust Punk gigs in t-shirts and jeans, and they just look at us gone out. You need to be in tight black gear with tattoos on your neck to fit in nowadays. If something’s comfortable, I’ll wear it. People do look at us a bit strange, but once you break down those barriers with people, it’s fine.

John: You have to be respectful, but it’s a stale scene really. It’s all the same. In Europe, things are fine, no one distrusts you, but back in England, its so image based. We don’t give a shit what anyone looks like though, we don’t care if your jeans are skinny or baggy or if you’ve got tattoos on your face.

Josh: Years ago, everyone was into Bring Me the Horizon and Architects; they were growing fringes, dying their hair black and wearing girls jeans. But scenes change, and most people are done with that. It’s fine stretching your ears really, really big, but two years later, you might change your mind, and then you have to deal with that.

Perhaps then, if you don’t get caught up in a certain image, it can give you a greater chance for longevity.

Josh: Black Dahlia Murder, right. They played one of their first gigs alongside people that were playing in all black, then they turned up in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. That’s what I always think back to.

Have you had any particular musical highlights this year in terms of your own performances or other band’s activity?

Danny: The New Frenzal Rhomb album, from Brisbane Australia, is one of the cleanest, cleanest albums i’ve heard in a long time, it’s awesome. That was last year though. The Fear’s new album too – they supported Belvedere at their first reunion gig in Paris and that was one of the best shows i’ve ever been to. In terms of our performances, I think we played pretty well at Flatliners.

John: We played with A Wilhelm Scream a while back an it was one of the best gigs we played; not only because we played with them, but because we were with a crowd that supported the support bands as much as the headliner. The whole set was just hammered and the support was really great. A great crowd, stood in front of you, going mental for twenty minutes was just great. Great for us to see something like that.

Danny: It was by far one of the best reactions we’ve ever had when we’ve been a support. We played a gig in Italy last year too, and I still think that’s the best gig we’ve ever played.

John: Completely different to the UK/mainland response. People willingly buy your merch as opposed to scoffing at it. They enjoy things and are aware far more of how things work. They realise it costs nothing to be nice. It always comes down to that.

Danny: Our tour in Europe in November is half booked and it doesn’t feel as though we’ve even got started yet. You usually go out with a load of strangers, but this time, we’re going out to meet friends. It’s also about being grateful for everything you’ve got. Always keep your eye on something. Keep asking. If you don’t get the gig that you want, then gig more and ask again.

Is there anything in Fair Do’s foreseeable future that’s exciting?

Danny: Yes! We’re going on tour in November with Almeida. The best band the UK has ever seen; and I know they’re big words. That means they’re better than Capdown, everything. Yep, yep, yep.

Josh: We’ve got the tour, we’ve got this demo/EP thing coming, then in the next six or nine months, we’re hoping to get an album going. Essentially, we want to try more than what we’ve got at the moment.  We want to get CDs sorted, proper CDs instead of these stickered demos. We might charge more, but it’d be a far more substantial purchase. Something to hold on to, something to put on your shelf.

Finally, we ask this question to every band we interview. Out of everyone in Fair Do’s, who would win in a knife fight with a bear?

Danny: Josh! He has the experience.

John: There’s much better things to kill than bears. What about politicians?

Danny: I suppose. I mean, a bear’s not going to fuck you over for money.

No, it’d just claw your face.

Josh: It wouldn’t claw your face, it’d take your fucking face off; it’d palm you.

Danny: When I was in Romania, in these mountains, I met this guy; he was a skinhead and a bit mental. He told me this story about this person who got slashed across the chest by a bear. Big fucking bears, and they would fuck you up.

Josh: Can a bear hold a knife?

Potentially, but it’s more likely that someone gaffer taped a knife to his paws-

Josh: Who did this? It’s a bit fucking cruel.

Danny: Is that like some vegan hardcore thing-

Josh: People who do these things to bears shouldn’t be included in a zine.

We don’t know who did this to the bear, it’s just been released-

Josh: What the fuck?

Well, one of you has to fight it.

Josh: Oli fucking Sykes would. Like a twat.

Danny: I’d fight the cunt who taped the knives to his paws.

John: The more likely scenario is that we’d all talk shit to it until it passed out, then we’d just leave.

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