The Vibrators, formed in 1976, were part of the first wave of punk musicians from the United Kingdom. John ‘Eddie’ Edwards is the founding drummer and has always been part of the band. Nigel Bennett has been the guitarist since 1990. Pete Honkamaki has been the bassist since 2003 and is now the vocalist, replacing original singer/guitarist Ian Knox.
AQ recently spoke with Edwards and discussed the sound his band was going for when it came to recording their debut album Pure Mania. Memories of producer Vic Maile were thoroughly explained from his work on V2. The Vibrators appearance on the Peel Sessions was recalled along with what their day was like visiting the Top of the Pops to perform “Automatic Lover” from the V2 album. Memories of past performances at the 100 Club were discussed, along with a thorough description of what American fans can expect from catching the Vibrators on this go around at MilkBoy in Philadelphia on Sept 6, the Bowery Electric in New York on Sept. 7, and QXT’S in Newark on Sept 8.
On Pure Mania, I read that you were trying to capture your live sound on the record—were there any particular shows of yours that you thought of during the recording?
Not particular shows. We used a guy named Robin Mayhew to produce it. He ran a company called Ground Control. He was doing our live sound at the time and did the tour with Iggy Pop and David Bowie. We thought that’s the kind of raw raucous sound that we seem to get to work live so that was what we wanted to do in the studio. We tried to recreate that as best we could. We didn’t want to get into too much over-production. I think there were some songs that we put on a bit more production than on others. We did one mix that came out in the U.K. with Robin Mayhew, and when it came out in America, they remixed it…. There was a slightly different mix for the American version.
What was an interesting thing that you learned or picked up from having Vic Maile produce V2?
Vic Maile was a genius. I think he was one of the best record producers I have ever worked with. He was very good at getting that live, in your face sound. His production techniques were second to none at that time. We are talking about tape and getting all the drums done in one shot. You can’t drop in, or anything, on the drums in those days. He was very keen at getting percussion stuff and I spent a whole day doing percussion with him which came out really well. I learned a lot from him. I did a lot of albums with him, [including] doing five albums with The Inmates with him, as well. Sadly he passed away when he was only 45. I thought it was a loss to the old music business. He probably is most famous for doing the Motorhead stuff just after us. That earned him some money and unfortunately, he got ill and one thing after another, got cancer and died. We miss him.
When it came to the Peel Sessions that you did with the Vibrators which one was your favorite?
Probably the first one, we were very green. We had hardly been in the studio and the first demos we had ever done were 2-track. Then, you could bounce down another track to put the vocals on top. The demos were very raw. In the studio, you could get a lot more ideas and be back with messing around with the tape and all kinds of stuff. The people that were producing it were really good and let us get away with all kinds of crazy ideas.
Can you tell what that the day was like when you visited the Top of the Pops to do the live performance of “Automatic Lover”?
That was a bit of a crazy day. In those days you had to go in and prerecord the track the day before, which would have been a Wednesday, I guess. Then you had to sing live over the recorded track. In later years, everybody just mimed to the record. You could play live, but we didn’t want to risk that. We didn’t want to do that since we didn’t know how good or bad the sound would be. Then they run the whole thing from start to finish without stopping. If you mess up, it comes out live screwed up. It was a little nerve-wracking, but not for me since I was only miming the backing track we recorded the day before. Knox had to sing everything live. He was probably a bit more nervous than the rest of us. We went out and did that. Then we went out and did a gig in Wolverhampton which was about 120 miles from London. When we finished there at around 6 o’ clock, we went straight up to Wolverhampton and got there around 8 o’ clock and went onstage around 9 or 10. We were always one of those bands that kept on doing things. Some other bands would be like, ‘Oh, you are doing Top of the Pops, you have the day off before and the day off after.’ We just carried on and fit it into the tour schedule.
What was your favorite 100 Club concert you performed at?
I played there quite a few times. They usually have a 10-day festival in January called Resolution. The one that stands out [for me] is the first one. We played a few times with the Sex Pistols. It was pretty chaotic. It’s got the history. If they ever shut it down it would be an absolute tragedy. So many of the gigs back then [at clubs] like Dingwalls, the Marquee—these things are an important part of our culture.
For your American fans that are going to be catching your show, can you give me a rundown on what your set list will be like?
We always end up doing “Baby, Baby,” and things like that since people want to hear that. We try to work out ones we haven’t played for a year or more. We might put “Hunting For You” back in, we haven’t played that in a few years. “Judy Says” is usually in the set, we like that one. Nigel always sings that one…. We do like to change it up. We have a rehearsal in a few weeks, and we are going to work out what we are going to do. What we normally do is a bunch of new stuff, and obviously people want to hear all the old songs. We change them around every now and again, so we are not playing the same set year in and year out.
Be sure to catch The Vibrators at MilkBoy in Philadelphia on Sept. 6, the Bowery Electric in New York on Sept. 7, and QXT’S in Newark on Sept. 8.