Have you ever been listening to some hardcore punk and thought to yourself, “This is good, but it’s just not mad enough”? If that rings all too true, then next on your list of bands to listen to should be Syd.31, the hardcore, electro punk band from Manchester. The British quartet are the self-proclaimed “angriest band in the UK”, and after listening to them, I’m inclined to believe that! Syd.31 were kind enough to take a break from tearing apart the established order to give us an interview.
How did you meet?
Madge: Mostly from my own gigs. I formed Syd.31 with just me and an old drummer, Dani got involved along the way, I knew Charlotte from other bands she played with and asked her to join. She had been in one of my fave bands ever from myspace days. I had been friends with Kara for a few years and I knew she’d be great at smashing the f*ck out of things.
How long have you been playing as a band?
M: Syd.31 had more or less been a solo project for me, with people helping me out while I tested the waters for a few years before. But Syd.31 as a proper band and as a four piece, its been just 13 months.
Before you get sick of being asked… Where does the band name come from?
M: I actually love being asked this. It comes from my Dad’s name, a variation of Sidney. He had me really late in life and was born in 1931, hence ‘Syd.31′. When he passed away it just seemed right to name it after him.
What are your influences?
M: Mostly punk – Discharge, Exploited, Disorder and shit loads of Misfits. Mixed with loads of metal like Fear Factory, classic Sepultura, Marilyn Manson. Also, I bloody love Joy Division and New Order too with tonnes of Hacienda Acid House, industrial and electro – good solid repetitive beats, hypnotising hi-hats and all the stuff that makes your ass move.
Dani: Early industrial and punk, the world around us and its corrupt declining state.
Kara: Nightwish, Fear and Loathing and lots of Anime characters. Oh yeah and Animal.
Charlotte: Iron Maiden is the biggest by far, Randy Rhoades era Ozzy, Sodom, Early Manics and Motorhead. Anything with passion, energy and often (but not always) melody, but whatever it is there has to be atmosphere and a sense of drama.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
M: The ability to make strangers dance – its just brutal punk and metal over dance rhythms with the occasional tribal stuff.
D: Our music is raw angry energy thrown into a box and mixed with our love of punk, 90s dance and the desperate want for change, shaken up and released into a positive outlet. I think what makes us unique is how we combine that raw energy and convert it into something that makes people want to dance.
K: We sound like something that come straight out of Mad Max or Fallout!
C: Simple, stomping, anthemic anger!
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
M: Yup, anger. Mostly biographical about the violence we have had to face for being different, our disabilities, sexuality, or just for being a f*cking mosher. I can’t believe someone in the UK got lynched only a few days ago for being disabled. This is a world we are having to fight hard in. The lyrics focus on this, but with rebellion and optimism because no one really want to see a bunch of miserable sods.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
M: I try to play about one gig a month, with a few more for tours and stuff. I think I’ve done about 50 shows, and as a four piece since launching as band, maybe 10. Not many at all, but oh God, the response to us has been incredible. Its just barely contained chaos, as one punter described it. Two or three layers of drums and percussion, with dark synth basslines, while the most intense guitar shredding overlays it all as I’m screaming my head off. It works, really bloody well. We all agree, we are the band we have always wanted to see, I can promise you there is no one on Earth like us.
D: Honest, interactive and fun. We like to create an environment where people can feel safe, and have a good time. We tend to end up with people from the crowd joining us on stage with mic in hand dancing, usually it’s the first time they have been brave enough to do that. Honestly, I’ve lost count how many we have played but it’s been great fun.
K: It’s a mixture of pure chaos and excitement, can’t remember the actual number of shows as its been a fiery blur.
C: Utter f*cking carnage! When the crowd click with us and everyone in the venue is in total sync, it feels like the walls are gonna burst at any second. But it’s the crowds that make it as much as it is us. The way the folk in the pit react to us really pushes us harder and gives us energy to really f*cking push ourselves until we’re just as drained as them.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
M: We put a lot of energy into our shows, playing until we collapse or faint. Last gig I had to lay down as physically I couldn’t stand up anymore. Another gig our drummer passed out surrounded by her kit. You couldn’t tell where human or kit started or finished. It all goes berserk; people just standing there screaming like they have been hit in the face. It’s something we’ve had to get used to. Our guitarist having to fight off women trying to pull her tights off her while she was playing was a good ‘un. Or people actually f*cking licking her guitar strings while she was doing a solo – just wild.
K: Well, A few times I’ve played so hard that I’ve passed out. Actually, it almost happens most gigs. Sometimes I refuse to play more and people run up rescue me, hand me water as I crawl away.
C: I only knew about the “clawing at my tights” from the photos. I may have been a bit “Jager-ed up” at the time. Which probably also explains a lot… Hmm, there was a gig in Leeds where I got into a certain rockstar moment, but I don’t want to incriminate anyone, so we’ll just say [CENSORED] – Which is a bit of a pants answer, but protecting the reputations of the guilty and all that.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
C: Live it’s my gorgeous white Ibanez RG. It’s hella versatile sound-wise and the trem is stable as f*ck. I do love my pinch harmonic/whammy bar combinations and it never goes out of tune. Plus, it looks so f*cking rad on stage and the colour really makes the stage blood really pop. I’m so in love with it, I totally used joining Syd.31 as an excuse to buy it. That’s run through a digitech processor that’s emulating a nice crunchy amp with a hint of reverb and some EQ. I’m not a huge fan of lots of FX, so a lot of its functionality is kind of wasted. Obviously, it isn’t as cool looking or as powerful sounding as a decent analogue amp, but it’s good enough and the advantage of having a complete rig that can fit in my guitar case makes traveling and logistics so much easier. None of that “well we need to hire a huge van because the amps take up 2 seats” situation. I mean, I have a gorgeous 120 watt Laney rig at home (that the processor is essentially modelling), but it’s just not practical at this level. It’s all about compromise, I guess.
M: I just use a cordless mic, ran through the house desk, wet as f*ck but with no special pedals or gimmicks. What you see is what you get – just angry ranting.
K: I use an Alesis electronic drum kit adjusted and modded so I can play standing up. It means I can dance like f*ck while playing.
D: Ah, trade secret, I use a laptop/synth/soundcard combination with a virtual mixer to trigger it all and two microphones for me do clean vox and my homemade telephone mic for distortion.
What are your plans for 2017?
M: Keep fighting the good fight against Planet Trump and all his ilk. See just how far people can handle noise as we try and push further. I’ve never been a big fan of Oasis, but they said they wanted to be the biggest band in the world. I admire that ambition and want to see how far a noisy band can go in today’s world. We have lots of gigs lined up and second UK tour later in the year. Ideally it’s time we had a crack at Europe too.
K: To not die while playing.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting…
M: For me it would either have to be Andrew W.K or Rob Zombie.
…and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Last Punks on Earth is released the 17th of March and is available for preorder here.