Interview with Red Terror UK
By Sheri Bicheno
Hi All! Sheri here. I’m back with another interview and this one is with Brighton/London based Punk band Red Terror UK!
Red Terror were formed in 2017 and as they put it, make noise about the UK government! Their self-titled EP, released in 2018, has helped them play live in some of the UK’s favourite Southern underground venues such as The Tavern, The Hope and Ruin, The Prince Albert, Bar 42 Worthing, The Pipeline, The Green Door Store and many more.
Read on to see what shenanigans they create, the concept behind their message in the EP and to never take things from strange men in large overcoats…
Sheri: So, we know Red Terror was unleashed in 2017! As with a lot of punk agendas, you have political confrontation in your music. Give our readers an insight into your background and how was Red Terror conceived?
Siri: Ahh hahaha it was initially conceived out of me, Joey and someone else wanting to have a bit of fun but it sorta just stopped. Then it came to a Uni assessment in the second year I think, and we needed to make a band as part of the assessment, so we just turned around and were like “you wanna give it another go?”. Then ended up getting J (Jed) into the band, who is not here right now haha – and then one thing led to another and we ended up with this somehow.
Ashwin: So, I filled in for a few shows and then it got into being like “look, just drum for us, already” haha which is fine!
*Jed enters the chat*
Ashwin: J – can you give us a bit of backstory into Red Terror?
Siri: Sorry, can I just hold up a second – we’ve finally managed to get all four of us in the same place at the same time hahaha.
Jed: Absolutely beautiful haha. From what I gather, Joey, Siri and Connor who is our previous drummer, used to put on gigs and go on and play ‘Endless Nameless’ (Nirvana song) and I went to this gig in Worthing that Joey was playing and they were like “do you wanna join the band?” and I was like “Ok, I’ll give it a go”.
Joey: We made you sign a contract.
Jed: Did we actually have a contract?
Joey: Yeah, we made you sign a contract, so you are legally bound to be in Red Terror for the next 97 years hahaha.
Jed: Hahaha. Oh shit. I remember that night we went to rehearse over the bridge and we were just noisy bastards. Until eventually, it was like, about 6 months later, we started tightening up and we actually played a gig. Then after that it was basically every other week, right we’re playing this, we’re playing that and chaos and pints ensued…
Sheri: Where are you all based? Are you all in Brighton?
Joey: We were. I mean, the majority of us moved away from for one reason or another and we sort of just meet in London when we can. It’s kinda the middle for everyone.
Ashwin: Our most recordings are back in Brighton but the last few months we’ve been either in Earlsfield or East Croydon where we go up and do practises now. There was a time where we were all based in the same City and it was a lot easier haha.
Siri: Back in the day!
Ashwin: Siri is the only one who’s managed to keep their lifestyle in Brighton which is fair play because I couldn’t do that forever hahaha.
Sheri: As mentioned, your music is politically charged, for all the reasons the UK needs to hear! Give our readers your own thoughts into the message you’re putting out there?
Joey: So, I mean, I think a lot of it comes from me personally, I was at College kinda around the time when the Tory coalition with the Liberal Democrats started. I remember me and someone else at College were completely ripping into one of the College Tutors as she was Tory…and I think it comes from that frustration of no matter what anyone seems to do, we’re just stuck with the Tories through an indefinite amount of time. I think we know how to channel that through music and it turns out that a lot of people seem to agree with that. A lot of bands have a similar method. It becomes a place where people can vent their frustrations and we’re almost like…through us doing that, we’re giving others a platform to voice those opinions, I guess.
Siri: I’d say also that we come from varying different backgrounds and ways that the UK government and political spectrum has impacted us in different ways, like we all come from different backgrounds. I mean obviously being individuals of colour, so there’s multiple different reasons for our views about the government and about how it’s impacted us and such. Having that broad sort of spectrum, it helps us in our music to appeal and apply it to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world because it’s a reflection on not just us but everyone at the moment.
Joey: We have a lot of hate mail as well from right wingers for like…we haven’t even done anything for ages…we have the occasional inbox or like comment on our posts that try to “Cancel us” I guess… what was that one from that guy the other day?
Siri: That was madness. What was he on about?
Jed: He was clearly in the middle of having some kind of normal one haha. Just wanting to express that hahaha.
Sheri: So, these are the motives behind creating what Red Terror are essentially about. It’s like putting personal things into music.
Jed: Oh, spite! A lot of acts, compared to them, I think we are a lot more violent in terms of performance. Because, as Siri has got on his Bass headstock, “You gotta mind out for the flying bass” because he’s just throwing it everywhere! I mean, how many people have you actually maimed?
Siri: Hahaha. I’ve not actually maimed anyone! I nearly killed Joey…
Joey: Things can happen where we include Hannah, the ceiling at the Tavern in Exeter, me, J…
Siri: The bass itself.
Joey: Who was the person you smashed in the face? Who got like a massive lump? I think it was Meg…or was that from the ceiling?
Jed: Oh no that was the bar at The Tavern, I think.
Siri: That wasn’t me, that was the metal bit in front of the stage that fell down so that was not me hahaha. There was this metal bar in front of the stage and they were just rocking it back and forward until they just ripped it out of its socket. It just collapsed on top of Meg and everyone else.
Sheri: Death to everyone!
Joey: Almost simulating a revolution…
Jed: I think a lot of post punk bands are missing that kind of level of stupid edgy spite that the original run of punks kind of had before they all turned Tories haha. The aim is to keep it in the left camp.
Ashwin: I think what’s different about being in this band compared to other stuff I’ve been involved with, is that it’s guaranteed to be fun and have this unbridled chaos that ensues and it seems to feed off quite well no matter who we’re playing with. I think there’s a level of accessibility with the left-wing messages in there but it’s not to a point of being like “haha Orange Man bad.” “Haha, Tories bad.” Especially since recently, there’s stuff we’ve sung about that we’ve drawn more from personal experience as opposed to just being like “Uh, government bad.” or that we are Communist punk rock – it’s expanded a bit more since then which is really nice and it’s just a good outlet to have that more politically driven side of things rather than being someone who talks the talk on their social media but doesn’t actually do anything actively.
Sheri: Let’s talk about your releases – you released EP Red Terror in 2018 – Apart from your iconic 44 second ‘Jeremy Corbyn Ate My Homework’, my favourite track is ‘Parasite’, which focuses on the Theresa May governance. Take us through the back roads of the lyrical meaning to this EP.
Siri: I forgot the lyrics. Hahaha. Joey just makes the lyrics up on the spot haha.
Joey: It was around the time that Windrush and a lot of racist attacks were empowered by Brexit. Their society is about refugees basically and people sort of attacking them and newspapers demonizing people for leaving more poorer countries. I mean, ‘Whitehawk’ is just a silly and fun song basically about… just don’t be a c*nt and don’t hate other people for no reason. ‘Pop Music’ was the first song we ever wrote, actually. That was kind of when me, Siri and Connor used to practise, we used to cover some Greenday songs. Haha.
Siri: And Feeder wasn’t it?
Joey: Yeah, haha I think that’s where the influence for that came from and it almost turned into a piss take out of itself. Obviously, we wrote the song and I was like “How do we make this more cheesy?” So, I added a key change to the last chorus.
Ashwin: That one’s my favourite to play live because I always like adding the tempo to ridiculous speeds to the point where it’s three times as fast as it’s meant to be but during the recording, I’m like “but it needs to be faster, I’m going to make this faster because I started this god damn tempo off and I want some control in this part.” haha.
I think that’s the only one that has a relationship theme, the rest of them are very blatant with the theme!
Joey: Yeah, we have our obligatory pop-punk break up song for certain.
Sheri: When coming together to write Red Terror, in terms of songwriting, how did you find fitting the rawness and energy to amalgamate your message and your music?
Siri: I would say in terms of the music, it was never really like we got into the studio and there were plans to be a punk band. It just sort of a case of we got in there and was like “let’s just play something” and it ended up as Red Terror. All of us come from fairly different musical backgrounds. Like. Shwin, you’re more sort of noisy and shit. J, from my understanding you’re more sort of old wave, Talking Heads and stuff like that. The weird shit.
Jed: Power pop and stuff like that. I’ve been part of the writing process, I just thought I enjoy that a part of the energy in a song can be the chords and they can go to stupid places. Siri came up the riff for ‘Why Should I?’ Which is our next single. I came up with the chorus, so I just slapped some chords together – it sounds a little bit weird.
Siri: Hahaha. That’s the Red Terror style – just “slap some stuff together”.
Sheri: Just get stuck in haha.
Joey: Some of the earliest recordings, I have them, it sounds almost kinda like a lost Nirvana session where we’re just dicking around and that’s sorta how it started and it became more and more refined because we took bits out of it and kept those bits and sort of got rid of the bits where I was screaming into the microphone and where J was scratching at the guitar against the amp and stuff like that. We still kept some of those bits in, but they have their place now instead of being spontaneous.
Sheri: That’s part of the personality of it. If Red Terror were a drink, what would you be and why? Give our readers a comparison taste…
Jed: DON’T SAY BUCKFAST!
Hahahaha. I’m gonna say Buckfast! Absolute unadulterated fucking chaos and you never know what’s gonna happen with it hahaha. Sometimes chaos and sometimes WTF is happening haha.
Ashwin: I’m gonna go with Black Sambuca – Siri can explain this story as it’s very relevant to when headlined our last gig. Hahaha.
Joey: Wasn’t that Buckfast as well?
Jed: But would that mean that we are about to admit that we committed a crime? Hahaha. We don’t need to include that part hahaha.
Ashwin: So basically, we partied in this playground and there was a man who offered us Black Sambuca and £10 crack from his very large overcoats – think that is one of the weirdest experiences, we haven’t had anything as surreal as that. We didn’t drink it obviously but… hahaha.
Siri: That could be something to do with the next song haha.
Sheri: Try anything once I guess haha. There’s a picture that’s one of my favourites and it’s featuring Siri in a chair and a pile of chunder…So whatever drink has that effect, I agree hahaha.
*everyone bursts into laughter*
Siri: I think that was a dodgy burger!
Joey: Siri’s dad bought us all burgers from Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Siri ungratefully decided to throw it up. Hahaha.
Siri: I think I’d only had like two drinks and then when we played, I went absolutely H.A.M when we played and my body was just like “no, you have done too much”.
Joey: Were you screaming “I hate Gourmet Burger Kitchen” before you threw up, or did I make that up?
Siri: No hahaha.
Joey: How do I remember it? Hahaha.
Jed: After that gig we all had to go straight back home because we had to go to work the next day. I had to be in by 10am and I think I was still drunk.
Siri: And I was quite drunk, sitting in my dad’s car for about 2 hours all the way from Exeter. Clearly my Dad was just there like “WTF has my son become?” hahaha.
Sheri: As the live music scene has been majorly trampled on over the last year, I can imagine it’s been a pain to be as productive as you’d like. Have you been making any plans for when live gigs return to some normality?
Joey: It’s been discussed. We’ve a few ideas.
Siri: I think we’ve bounced around a couple of ideas but for the most part it’s been more that we don’t know when this is gonna end. Also, we would rather not be in a situation where we book something and then BANG, you’re in another lockdown.
Ashwin: I think the most frustrating thing last year was that it was very obvious gigs were getting rescheduled for September that it just wasn’t happening…and promoters were being really optimistic about that and it was pissing me off because there was no vaccine in sight, there’s no funding for these venues, most of these venues are having to do crowd funders to keep afloat and there was just no normality. I find that its weirder when we did practise and record stuff, as soon as lockdown was lifted the first time, people were going fresh into the practise phases and it kinda seems pointless because it’s like… the live shows that you want in that capacity are just not possible and if you are going to, you’re gonna have these shit sit down equivalents, which I get why people are doing, but for punk bands it’s just not the same.
If you’re an indie band or a solo Artist, I mean I don’t want to shit on people who are doing these socially distance gigs, I just feel like it’s better to wait until everything settles and you don’t feel guilty for playing these things because you’re not putting people at risk. Above all, if there’s something that’s gone away rather than “well, we can squeeze this in before another lockdown” I just don’t think that’s great.
Siri: What if we played gigs in Hazmat suits?
Sheri: Are you working on any new material that you can tell us about?
Joey: Yeah, we’ve got a couple of songs and I’ve got a few ideas that we first started writing since the last full lockdown. Song called ‘Tram Man’. Which, is once again about a bad experience that Siri had…
Sheri: Why is it always you? Hahaha.
Siri: It was traumatising hahaha.
Ashwin: ‘Tram Man’ was made because of a practise that we had in East Croydon, where we got on the tram to get to the practise room and because in London, they don’t accept cash on public transport, Siri couldn’t just buy a ticket on the tram, so he got slapped with a £100 fine or something ridiculous like that and we just decided to write a song about it.
Jed: I’ve started writing lyrics in a way. The way it kinda turned out is just kinda like more anxiety about where technology is actually going and that it might actually leave us all behind. If you’re homeless and you wanna get about, what do you do? If you don’t have a credit card and where banks are going cashless, you’re kind of fucked.
Ashwin: Exactly…and that’s definitely increased over COVID and fuck knows what it will be like after this period where people are afraid – and I understand why because it’s handing things over. But also, I feel like it’s already hard enough for people in marginalised positions to you know, even have a fixed address for a bank account or even access to medication and so the idea, I guess in a larger way, is ‘The Tram Man’ is this unbeatable figure of aggression, essentially. Hahaha. No one really likes going on a train and figuring out that you don’t have the right ticket and then being charged extra for that so…it’s like an extended metaphor of that…
Sheri: Tell our readers how we can support you at the moment.
Joey: Ah, listening to us on Spotify and YouTube and sharing our stuff around. We haven’t really got any monetized revenue, really. I mean we’re a punk band so we’re not really doing this for money.
Ashwin: Even if we did anyway there’s no money to be had because that’s what life is like hahaha.
Joey: We’ve got merch; CD’s, T-shirts and stuff. So, if anyone wants to send us a message with their address, they can always buy a T-Shirt…or buy me a beer.
Siri: If you really wanna help us out, you can leave food out for the Racoons that make up the 4 people sat before you haha.
Sheri: Send out food and beer hahaha. Do you have any other platforms apart from Facebook?
Jed: We’re on Spotify and Bandcamp.
Joey: And Instagram, Apple Music, Twitter page…
Jed: What we would like to encourage people to do is make a playlist and put it on loop and basically take as much money from Daniel Ek as possible…because he’s being a bastard hahaha.
Ashwin: To be honest, playlists are the best way of supporting people because not only are you helping your mates but you’re expanding music that people might not be familiar with. The thing with Spotify is that most of the similar sounding things are not to do with the sound itself, it’s to do with the sort of people that listen to your music. So, in my other bands, there’s loads of unrelated Artists that will come up as suggestions, but they happen to be what people are listening to at the time, so if you have a playlist of similar sounding things or different bands that have the same members as each other or something, that’s usually the best way of supporting. It also means that you don’t have to slog through you know, loads of other stuff if you just want to listen to one track etc. I think it’s really easy to be really cynical about Spotify and there’s this evil overlord’s thing…but I guess that platform is there, it’s convenient, it’s not going away so you might as well make good use of it.
Siri: The only reason your playlist is set up like that is because we all know that “Shoegaze” isn’t a real genre. Hahaha.
Jed: Playlist culture now is just a bit of bollocks…
Ashwin: Prove it. It increases your overall streams and I think there’s a way of doing it where it isn’t this contrived thing and I think that also having collaborative playlists where people can add their own – as long as it’s within reason and people aren’t silly with it and add like, I dunno, Gary Glitter or something stupid like that. Then you can make it a fun, collaborative thing to have so…
Siri: Now who’s talking about problematic Artists haha.
Jed: I’ve been working on my other project as well and part of that is that I’ve been doing a lot of the promotion for it, for the first time and I’ve been watching those little music videos about how you increase your reach; you go onto to submit your email to blogs, you do all this and that. I got added to one playlist out of all that and it’s got like 500 songs on it. So, I think it gets to the point sometimes where you just, a lot of the time, the desperation to be added to it gets to you. But I don’t see a better way of doing it.
Sheri: Not until some things get back to normality and you can physically promote yourselves. Finally, give some advice!
Ashwin: It’s about getting the balance right, don’t be afraid to self-promote because at the end of the day, unless you have all of these connections that you know, no one is gonna do it but yourself…on the other hand, I really object to people who add you on Facebook and then immediately be like “Hey, man. Come like my metal core band or…add you to an Instagram group with all of their friends that you’ve never met before and they’re like “Come watch our new music video!” So those things, bad. Sponsors, links or whatever – they might be a bit annoying, but they do work. Thing is getting over that anxiety of like “I’m in a band and I’m doing that.” or whatever and your friends might find it a bit annoying but…who fucking cares? They might be quite pleasantly surprised by it but just…self-promote but just be smart about it.
Joey: Yeah, dont; force your music upon people because they’re probably more likely to reject it straight away – even if you think it’s great, people don’t like adverts, generally. And I guess people don’t like being told what to do so any information out there for your music. I’m not even on Facebook anymore because I think it’s a load of shit but like…I share stuff to Instagram stories and stuff because people respond to it like “oh sick!”
Ashwin: Yeah, it’s more organic than just bombarding people with a load of shit. There’s a lot of stereotypes around DIY musicians where it’s easy to take the piss out of them because it is pretty cringe, but it is also the only way to promote…so…if all 4 of you are promoting at the same time, you share the embarrassment but if you’re doing it on your own, you’re sorta fucked hahaha.
Siri: It’s difficult when, if you do make a post and it will get lost in the sea of other posts going around from different bands or memes or whatever, it’s so easy for your stuff to get lost in that. So, it is really difficult unless you’re willing to fork out money to pay Zuckerberg to give you more reach.
Jed: I got banned from Facebook Ad’s recently. I don’t know how – I think what happened was that it came up with PayPal for two different things and I wasn’t getting an invoice for some of it, so I ended up blocking it and then I got banned from it cuz it’s just fucked how they operate it. I guess my advice is exist out of spite! If no one is listening, keep making it and you know, pay to like one person in a tiny basement with your trousers off cuz one day…
Ashwin: Hahaha. Why do they have to have their trousers off!?!
Jed: Cuz I mean, we’re not big. But there are still people who will come out to see us and I still get messages from people who are like “I recognise you through this thing” or Facebook groups and things like that. It’s a small world.
Joey: Yeah, me and Siri got recognised by someone and neither of us had any idea who they were.
Siri: I think that was after our first gig, we walked into an offie’ and some guy was like “You’re the guys from Red Terror!” and we were like YAAAAA!
Joey: Yeah? What’s it to ya haha!
Ashwin: And it wasn’t a threat, it was like OH MY GOD someone recognises us hahaha. WHY DO YOU KNOW US? Hahaha.
Joey: As long as you’re not a cop haha.
Ashwin: Yeah “You’re from Red Terror, you’re the ones that broke the mirrors last night.” hahaha. I just did that in a West Country accent and I have no idea why.
Sheri: Why not hahaha. Thanks so much guys, it’s been brilliant!
Red Terror: Thank you so much!
Red Terror are:
Siri Crawford – Bass
Joey Reeves – Vocals
Ashwin Bhandari – Drums
Jed – Guitar
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities