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INTERVIEW: Hellbastard’s Scruff opens up ahead of Belfast show – Let the rant commence!

HELLBASTARD –  a name many savour for it stands for in musical  – and political – terms. As they prepare for their show in Belfast’s Voodoo on August 25th we caught up with self-confessed “ranter” Scruff Lewty to find out some more about the ‘Bastard.

Having caught their impressive show at Hammerfest earlier this year they proved that they provide a tour de force set, loaded with vigour and virtue – something that seemed to stem from a DIY attitude, however as Scruff explained wasn’t always the case.

“We haven’t always taken that approach,” he said. “We have been signed to record labels over the years and they more-often-than-not dictated to us – usually we would just do what we wanted to do anyway, having never been a fan of being told what to do, so fuck ’em.

“Of course too many bands don’t want to put the WORK in, they think they can upload a few tracks to youtube and act like they know it all. It’s a different generation now though – they have Internet and can record albums at home.  We had public telephone boxes and the mail service to conduct our affairs.

He continued: “Tape trading to spread out our music and typewriters and letraset to make our album sleeves. Analog recording in studios and getting busy with the razor blades when editing a ‘mistake’. Kids these days don’t even know they were fucking born!”

But in today’s changing musical environment how do bands such as Hellbastard manage to survive, and is there an added benefit of no interference>

“I think ‘interference’ comes from so many different avenues its difficult to focus,” said Scruff. “Life is hard enough and keeping a job ticking over and even day to day running of domesticity let alone getting together from hundreds of miles away to rehearse new songs.

“Let’s face it. Music is fucked now more than ever. The ‘DIY’ culture as opposed to being Signed to a major label has many many benefits though. Some bands make a good go of being ‘DIY’ look at Clutch for example.

“Merch is usually a good way for bands to cover SOME expenses. If I go to see a band it’s nice to see they ‘personalise’ things for their fan base.  It’s not the only way to keep heads above water though.”

When Hellbastard appeared in Wales at Hammerfest Scruff raged against the policy of the then Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher and the Tory policies that led to the destruction of the Welsh mining industry. With many punks and the current extreme metal acts making increasingly politicised songs we wanted to know was this one of the last places of real protest.

“Absolutely not. I’ll give you a great example. I was in a supermarket some years ago. I was looking for something in particular and these 3 idiots started saying “kill the nigger, kill the jungle bunny” to a security guard IN the store,” he said.

“Naturally this caught my attention so I walked up to the biggest of the three and said to him ‘…….are you fucking mental ? That guy is here working shitty hours in a shitty paid job and all he wants to do is feed his family or pay his way and you shout that kind of xenophobic crap at him ? Are you totally fucking blind as well as an insouciant omnipotent jarhead ? ” one of the three said ‘let’s go he’s not right”. (Meaning me).

“I admit I was crapping my pants because I thought they would jump me when I left the supermarket (Sainsburys) but they didn’t. Three or four days later I was parking my motorbike at the same store and one of the lads who was there that day came and told me he thought the lad doing the shouting was an idiot.

“Case proven.

“Sometimes it takes ONE person to stand up and it can affect the outcome. I still see him now and he’s even got me to take a look at his carburettor in his motorcycle because it’s not running right. Go figure !  He’s also got non uk citizen friends. Moral of the story – fuck xenophobia.

“A statement can be made ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. ITS CALLED “supporting what is RIGHT”. And speaking out against something that you see or feel is wrong.

Scruff went on: “Music is one avenue for political commentary. Supermarkets are another. I was on a plane journey once sitting next to a conservative meat eater. By the time we landed in Minneapolis he was an ardent vegetarian and class war thug. Fucking awesome! Hahaha. True story.

And, after Jeremy Corbyn appearing like a cult leader at Glastonbury the middle class and aspiring hippies coming all peace, love and shit music they draw Scruffs ire.

“I live very close to Glastonbury, Jesus Christ – have you seen the mess after the festival is over. The messy dirty litter dropping fuckers. I bet they don’t leave THAT kind of mess in their gardens or houses. Fucking trash humans. Wankers. All of the cunts. Fuck that mindset. We hear about a ‘housing shortage’ – what effing housing shortage ? There’s too many people.”

With the longevity of Hellbastard how long can the band keep going?

“I’m not so sure. It’s a hard slog. It always has been,” said Scruff. “Members have left because they want to be mollycoddled by the press, by fans, by record labels and by the stupid fact they are ‘in a band that is famous’. That’s the perfect way to get me on edge.

“I have zero tolerance for that kind of attitude. Even after 38 years of being actively ‘involved’ within music.

“We struggle. Like most bands do these days. It’s getting harder and harder to stay afloat. We shall just have to see.

“Right now we have great personnel. Jon the drummer, a vegan chef and a very cool guy. Dougy the guitar player, a Geordie like me, absolutely lovely chap – and Dave the bass player- an encyclopaedia of metal. And me, still trying to sing and play guitar. I’m getting there -slowly.”

Given Scruff’s experience we wanted to know what any fan  – young or old – should check out
“In hindsight you shouldn’t listen to anything you don’t want to. But I’ll try and answer this in a sensible way – or maybe an ‘educational’ way (?) my musical taste is pretty eclectic so the ‘list’ would go like this:

“Crass/ rudimentary peni/ conflict / the apostles / Amebix/ Hellhammer / Celtic frost / Discharge / Slayer / Melvins / Bad Brains / Antisect / Type O Negative / Carnivore / Swans/ 16 Horsepower / Katzenjammer / Sleaford mods/ Calexico / Trailer Hitch / Elvis Hitler / Genocide SS / Sex Pistols / Raped / The Outcasts / Henry Rollins Band / Kyuss / Hermano / Slo -Burn / Che / Fishbone / X Ray Spex / Svetlanas / PanzerBastard / Clutch / Oi Polloi / death ss / The Rezillos / Woody Guthrie / Mel Torme / The Insane / Demob/ Coven / Birth Control / Albertoylostriosparanios/ Killing Joke / Trailer Hitch / and a million more that I will not mention cos that’s surely enough.”

There was one band on that list that we’ve taken out, because the tongue was firmly in the mischievous cheek of Scruff – and that was Skewdriver…

“When I mentioned ‘SKREWDRIVER’ in the list of bands I did so because anyone that has never
HEARD that shit needs to hear it to see that there once existed a bunch of jarhead apes that actually had such TERRIBLE – vile – lyrics.

“ALSO – When Ian Stuart died we all went and had a pint to celebrate!”

Yeah – Hellbastard stand for what is right in what they play, how they play and what they say!

Hellbastard play with Panzerbastard and Scimitar in the Voodoo on August 25th

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