Goldblade Frontman John Robb Interviewed

Punk stalwart John Robb talks Slade, the NHS and mixing music with politics.
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Punk stalwart John Robb talks Slade, the NHS and mixing music with politics.


Goldblade commander John Robb cradles a hefty flotilla of artillery. As well the band, he has written books on the Stone Roses, Punk Rock and is captain of the internet pirate ship Louder Than War. In short, he knows of which he speaks.

John: Have you heard that Angel Haze song 'New York'? It's fucking brilliant.

I was ready to talk Roses, Punks and Justice, but the East Coast one women swear jar is top of Johns list:

John: It's the drums on it, there massive, I love pop music, it's just my version of pop music tends to be noisier than everyone's else's

Angel aside, you must be pleased with the Goldblade reviews?

John: You're waiting for someone to stick the boot in, but this one seems to of turned a few heads, we basically put it down in two days, pain in the arse is you can't get played on the radio though.

Does the same go for TV?

John: You've only got Jools Holland but that's old people's music, I mean I'm old, but that's just old people's music ain't it? They have these mental Algerian folk acts, even though they're still talking about fucking and fighting Jools is none the wiser, I'll wave a flag for that but the only music they don't play is punk rock, which is British folk music anyway.

Do you think the problem with indie is its inherent snobbery?

John: It's the self-editing of music, they're are bands that are utterly uncool but absolutely brilliant, look at Slade, they were Ian Brown’s and Noel's Gallagher's favourite bands growing up and Noddy Holder has to be one of the best British voices of all time, Slade were like Beatles when I was growing up.

So you're saying people hide it?

John: People say 'I only listened to Bowie in 70's'; yeah alright he's a genius but what about Slade, man? If you go to someone's house and all they have is jazz albums you know they're bullshitters and there's loads of stuff they actually listen to locked away in a drawer.

Why don't we have movements like Punk anymore?

John: We do! You get the impression from documentaries that there were 1,000 of these punks everywhere causing mayhem, but it wasn't like that, there were three punks in our school they rest of them were kicking about in flares and big knotted ties. If you go back to schools now there are loads more metal kicks then we ever had punks.

So there is a strong youth culture?

John: Of course, the Emos are the grandkids of Goths, there's more youth culture now than ever before, it's just people glossing over everything to make it look good for TV. I had a great time at 16 don't get me wrong, I'm sure the majority of 16 years old today do, it's just it's not your culture so why would you understand or recognise it?

Was it the same for you though?

John: People's always want to make you think you missed out on something, for us it was the 60s and that we turned up late to the party, bollocks to that we were having are own party, the weight of rock history rests heavy on these kids shoulders, but don't be crushed by it.

You lecture about music in colleges?

John: I ask them to tell me about their music, who am I to tell a group of teenagers about being young, create your own culture, that’s the legacy of punk, kids should be making their own and terrifying the world with it.

Why do you think the Roses come back has been so well received?

John: That record never stopped selling, when they got back together and were bigger than ever. it's a real victory, because the best brands are people's bands and that's what the Roses are. Their mystic was left untrained and untarnished and of course they've got a set of killer songs

You did the Justice 96 tour, campaigning for truth to come out about the Hillsborough disaster 

John: Before the truth came out there was an in-battled feeling in Liverpool that they thought people considered them liars, so to go and show support for that was a really moving experience. Mick Jones came riding out like the last of the cowboys and played the songs he hadn't played since the Clash and didn't get paid a penny for it. He said he would never do Clash songs for money because the ghost of Joe strummer is always watching over him, making sure he doesn't fuck it up.

The Labour MP Tom Watson was involved, are you wary mixing music and politics?

John: He does a speech like a clash song, 90 seconds long and straight to the point. He's got balls taking on the establishment on his own. Some M.Ps are alright, they're not all building bird houses with public money you know.

You're going to do another set of gigs for the NHS?

John: People give a shit about people and care about them when they're ill, it doesn't matter how fucked up you are, the NHS is enough to make you proud to be British, thats why we're doing it, it's the Punks giving the NHS a cuddle.

Since the Justice Tour, evidence has been released proving the innocence of the supports and the government’s attempts to cover-up?

John: And there's more to come, politicians should realise that you never take the mothers on because you're not going to beat them. If you've lost a child at war or on a football terrace and your government lies to you for 13 years, you're not going to give up without a fight.

Goldblade’s album The Terror Of Modern Life is out now, you can get it here

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