Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos by the ever-excellent Hold My Pint.
Pizzatramp have taken the UK punk scene by storm. They keep playing to bigger, wilder crowds and they’re virtually a household name in DIY circles. They hurl 30 second thrash tracks out at breakneck pace, sending audiences across the country into a frenzy. They’re also utterly hilarious, peppering their performances with unpretentious skits, one-liners and in-jokes.
In January they put out a new album on TNS Records: Revenge of the Bangertronic Dan + 13 Songs. As it says on the tin, it’s their Bangertronic EP with a selection of their 13 most popular tracks throw in, now available in shiny 12’’ format. You can get it direct from TNS on random coloured vinyl, or you can pick up a fetching grey copy from the band.
We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Jimmy The Macho Man Savage (he insisted I call him that) about the new record, the insanity of their live shows and all the hilarious variants of their song Hope You Fucking Die.
You’ve just released Revenge of the Bangertronic Dan + 13 Songs on vinyl via TNS Records.
Yep, our cynical cash grab one, that’s right.
Tell me how that first came about.
We recorded the EP last year. We were going to record another album but all our cars were broken and our old van was broken. We needed to get some money from somewhere and get a van really quick, so we had 8 songs and we risked it. We released it on these little thin cardboard wallets that are really cheap to produce, but then Bev and Andy [from TNS Records] said hang on a minute, are TNS releasing this or are you releasing it?
We said, “We’re not being rude or anything, but we need £2,000 immediately. If we sit and make it for ourselves and sell it for a fiver then we’ll hopefully get the money we need.” So, we did that and we promised TNS they could do the vinyl.
We released the CD independently, earned the money for the van and then we went to press it on vinyl. The problem is that our albums are so short… on Blowing Chunks people kept complaining that there was nothing on the B-side, and when people tried to put it on it was knackering their vinyl players. We had to put something on the other side. Everyone’s asked us for the old songs on vinyl so we re-mastered them, to make it sound like we put some effort into it.
So, the 13 Songs you’ve tagged on the end… I take it that’s a deliberate Fugazi reference?
It was a deliberate reference, yeah, although I don’t think anyone else in the band gets it. I didn’t bother explaining it to them. I tried to rip off that Fugazi cover, with the photos inside the letters – I was trying to do something with pizza but my Photoshop skills are rubbish.
Instead you’ve got the awesome artwork Mark Bell did for the original Bangertronic cover.
You’re right. I message him in the middle of the night when I’m drunk, give him a stream of consciousness thing about what I want him to draw. I forget I’ve done it and then a day later he’ll send it over saying, “Is this what you wanted?” He’s that good that whatever I said, even if I don’t remember it, it always looks exactly like what I wanted.
How did you work out which other 13 songs you were going to put on there?
They’re the ones that either people know the words to at gigs, or that people ask us to play. We tried to make sure it’s a selection from across our CDs, but really it’s the ones we still play live.
Obviously, the title is a reference to Revenge of The Psychotronic Man. Why did you decide to go with that?
It’s because we were always slagging Dan [our drummer] off. We did a mockumentary thing where we’d pretend that we couldn’t remember his name, because he gets really stressy about it. At gigs, no one ever goes up to him. No one ever knows he’s in the band, so we always play on it and bully him even more. So we said, “Seeing as we never do anything for you, Dan, we’ll stick your face on an album cover.” His Mum was really happy, because he’s got his face on a t-shirt and everything.
Then we had to decide what to call it. We want to do a trilogy. I keep texting the other two coming up with ideas for ridiculous ideas for ripping off other DIY punk bands, but I haven’t found one that fits with Sam’s name yet. Samuel Nausea’s the closest I’ve gotten so far. It sort of works but it’s not good enough. I spend more time worrying about these things than I do about writing songs, to be honest.
Well, if you’re going to write 10 seconds songs then at least you have time to think about these things.
Exactly. Worry about everything else, then at the last possible second go, alright, we better quickly write some really fast thrash songs, stick loads of swearing in it and hope that people still like it. And not realise that we’re not progressing or releasing anything different with every CD.
Are you working on any new material at the moment?
Yeah, we’ve got 8 new songs. Because we’ve got so many gigs, we’ve worked out we can’t go into the studio until June or July. We’ve got some great surprises later in the year too.
If you’ve got some new material on the way, have you considered writing any new jokes to go with it?
Oh my god! What, live? I know this, Sam’s had a go at me about it – he says, “You just say the same shit at every gig we do.” Yeah… it’s because I get really nervous so I can’t be quiet between songs, and I’m usually really pissed so I can’t think of anything funny to say, so I just revert to the same thing!
You normally do a variant of Hope You Fucking Die. What’s been your favourite version of that?
The best time we’ve played it straight (just the original) was in Wales when no one knew who we were. We were in this heavy metal festival in a trailer in a car park and everyone there hated us. There were a line of blokes at the back – you could tell they hated us and they were all staring at me. So I said, “This one’s for all my friends at the back, it’s called I Hope You Fucking Die.”
There were only about 30 people still watching, but I see this bloke look up and start walking across the car park, pouring his cider out of his bottle. Nobody had noticed it, but I thought, ‘he’s going to smash me in the face with his bottle’. I don’t want to get into a fight, and I’m looking at him thinking, ‘if he tries to step on stage I’m going to have to kick him in the face’. He’s about twice the size of me and I’m going to die if he hits me with that bottle… I’m thinking all this while I’m trying to sing a song… I was thinking, ‘if I kick him in the face, everyone’s going to think I’m a psycho’.
Luckily, my mate was side of stage and was watching what was happening. As that bloke got closer to the stage, my mate must have told security and about three people piled on him. He struggled for about two songs and they had to drag him away. For the rest of the gig I had to put my hoody and my hat on and try to and hide from him.
What about your favourite piss-take version?
It would be Al Corbett from London. I met him in Stamford and we shook hands and said, “My name’s Al.” Within one minute I’d said, “The thing is, Steve…” He stopped me and said, “What are you doing the rockstar shit for?” I said, “What are you on about?” “You just called me Steve. I told you one minute ago that my name is Al.”
So now, whenever I see Al, we do ‘I know your name is Al’. It’s gone extreme now, because I always call Stephen from Manchester Steph. I got called out at a gig at Gullivers, where his mates all told me I was saying his name wrong. So, now, when they’re both there, I have to do ‘I know your name is Al’ (who I call Steve), and ‘I know your name is Steve’ (who I call Steph).
On The Domestics tour it got ridiculous, we did it about eight times. That was getting bad then – even the people who knew it was a joke were getting really wound up. It wasn’t getting funnier, it was getting worse and worse but I couldn’t help myself. People were walking out but I was thinking, ‘we can’t stop now’. I want to apply to the Guinness Book of Records for the record number of times that a band has played the same song in a row. They’d have to send someone out to watch that – I’ve got an image of a 60 year old guy in a suit, with a clipboard watching us just to make sure we’re doing what we say we’re doing and having to put up with us for the whole set. I quite like that idea.
You’ve built up a massive reputation for your live show. At MPF last year, I was stood there with a friend who was watching you for the first time. He turned around to me and said, “I think I’ve just shit myself with joy.”
I love that! I’m putting that as a quote on a CD!
That gig was when we realised we were doing something right. We’d played in Wales the night before and drove up with stinking hangovers, so we got there just before we played. We thought no one was going to watch us. The lights were off in the venue before we played, so we didn’t realise there was anyone in there. We did our soundcheck, and when the lights came up we absolutely shit ourselves. There were loads of people in there. I didn’t know what was going on – there were spotlights and going on and off, I couldn’t see my guitar, it was a scary gig that. When we saw there were loads of people there we thought, “Shit, we need to be really good,” but we were all dying of hangovers.
If I gave you a pound for every time your hat fell off during a show, what would you spend all the money on?
Shit. I would quit the band, wouldn’t I? I’d be a millionaire by now! The thing is, it’s only this hat. My old hat used to stay on, but this one falls off at every gig. Maybe my head shrunk? I’d pay someone to research and design a version of this exact hat, that actually stayed on. The most expensive Wayne’s World snapback of all time.
What’s the weirdest thing someone has said to you after a show?
That’s sort of the story of our second EP, Late Night At Netty’s. Someone in Cardiff came up to us and just said, “Do you want to come to Netty’s?”
We said, “Yeah, alright, what is it?” It’s turns out it’s a fancy dress shop, which they’ve been running as a speakeasy afterhours. It’s 2am and [they need a secret code to get in]. We wind up in this room full of homeless people and squatters, in a fancy dress shop in Cardiff, sat on someone’s lap making spliffs for them for about 12 hours, getting told stories. They were playing really loud rave music and everyone was walking around in fancy dress masks. That was definitely an eye-opener, that one.
The toilet broke while we were there and Sam’s a plumber so he started giving it the big one, saying, “I’ll fix your toilet.” He ended up breaking it even more and we had to leave because the whole place was flooding with shitty water and it was our fault. We’ve not been invited back since, but we did write an album about it.
Who do you think is more proud of you – your kids or your parents?
Oh my kids, definitely. I’d love to bring them to a show, but we’d have to do some kind of daytime gig where I’m not allowed to swear. They always want to listen to the tracks in the car, so I skip all the swearing tracks and, if it accidentally happens, I blame it on Sam. “It wasn’t me singing that, it was Sam.”
My Dad’s quite proud of me, he’s an old-school punk. My Mum came to one gig. She lasted two songs and then walked out – she heard me say something about snorting cocaine and she was gone!
What’s the future of Pizzatramp? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Well, I’ll be dead. The other two will probably be alright – they’ll just start another band and not have to deal with me all the time. They tell me that my lifestyle is unsustainable. They hate me but they put up with me, because I do all the merch and the admin.
Massive thanks to Jim for chatting to us. Make sure you pick up a copy of Revenge of the Bangertronic Dan + 13 Songs direct from TNS Records! Then get excited for some new Pizzatramp recordings later in 2018, plus some cool surprises.
Pizzatramp are constantly touring, but some highlights for this year include The Old Town House’s Easervaganza, Itchfest, Manchester Punk Festival and Wonkfest. Full list here. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for all their brutally funny updates.
Interview by Sarah Williams. Photos by the ever-excellent Hold My Pint.
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