INTERVIEW: Cock Sparrer (UK)

Cock Sparrer is a legendary punk band formed in 1972 in the East End of London, England. The band was founded by Colin McFaull, Mick Beaufoy, Steve Burgess and Steve Bruce. Daryl Smith (rhythm guitar) joined the band in 1992. The band ceased activity in late 1978 but reformed in 1982, ceased activity again in 1984 but reformed again in 1992.

England belong’s to me
A nation’s pride the dirty water on the rivers
No one can take away our memory
Oh Oh, England belongs to me

They played Groezrock for the first time this year. A festival where a lot of their friends bands played before and told them it was somewhere they should try to get to in their career. “We are very happy to play here. It’s not our usual sort of show, not our usual sort of crowd but we are happy to make new friends wherever we go. When we got to play for an equal mix of boys and girls, old and young, punks, skins, HC, guys with dreads jumping around in the pit … we’re proud. When we see a good mix in the crowd, we know we are doing something right. Everyone should feel welcome at a Cock Sparrer show, Cock Sparrer is for everybody”, Colin and Daryl say.

Photo by Sam Bruce.

After all these years they are still going strong. “If we have are health, if we are still enjoying it and the crowd are still enjoying it, we keep on going. We take each year as it comes and see what the offers are. We have more gigs planned in Europe, the UK and in the USA including some small pub shows to promote the new album ‘Forever’. We try not to plan too far ahead because we don’t know where we are going to be this time next year”, Colin and Daryl say.

Cock Sparrer is considered as one of the most influential punk bands of all time. Influenced by pub rock, glam and the 60s they paved the way for punk and Oi! music the hard way by hard work and learning the business along the way. “The glory days or the good old days as some call it when it comes to punk rock weren’t that great. It was hard to get gigs, the equipment wasn’t good and there was much trouble in the early years on concerts and everything. Now we’re having the best years of our lives. We’re enjoying it and have fun everywhere we go. The scene is very healthy and positive. The people involved are here because they want to be here and love the music. Years ago some people only lived for the fashion of it and then they were gone for something else. It’s a good scene now. With a lots of good young bands coming through and that’s what keeping it alive”, Colin and Daryl explain why it is better now than in their early days.In the 70’s nobody thought that punk would last and the guys in Cock Sparrer never thought that 45 years later they would still be gigging around the world. Just like punk everyone thought it was something that would come along, live a short life and burn out. It would disappear! Nobody could forecast that people would still be interested in this sort of thing so long after punk was invented. “It is crazy that songs you have written when you were 16, sitting around your mother’s kitchen table that 45 years later you’re on the other side of the world and some one knows every word to every song. It is not anything we take for granted it still surprises us but it’s a cool feeling. ‘England belongs to me’ has been sung along all across the world from Argentina to Scotland, where in Glasgow the 3 front rows stood like :-/ haha … good fun though”, Colin and Daryl add.

But Cock Sparrer does not want to be a retro band with just old songs. The lads still have something to say and they still like to make new music. It might take them a long time (their latest album ‘Forever’ got released 10 years after ‘Here we Stand’) but that’s because they want to deliver quality instead of releasing an album every couple of years. So early April Cock Sparrer announced that there was a new album on the way and without any crowdfunding, large social media and internet campaigns, … they released ‘Forever’ 3 weeks later.

Photo by Sam Bruce.

When you go and see a Cock Sparrer show you certainly will hear the classics, people want to hear ‘England belongs to me’ and no one wants to hear their favourite band play an ‘all new songs show’ but they certainly will play some new ones “It might be the first time someone see you so you want to give them your strongest show. It’s a good night out and you want to hear all the greats we are certainly proud of the new album and we hope that these songs in time will be as popular at the old ones so we add more and more new songs to the set list as the album gets more and more known. We try to plan the show so that there is something for everybody,” Colin and Daryl say.

Collecting funds for the holy fight
Like a door to door salesman in the dead of night
Russian guns help him on his way
Bought with money from the USA

“We also like to think that the songs we write don’t date us. Like the song ‘Because you’re young’ if yo are a father you can always relate to that 10, 20, … years later. Or the song ‘Secret army’. Terrorism was a big problem in the UK years ago today we have the same problems but with different people. A lot has changed over the years but a lot is still the same unfortunately, like the problem with extreme people.  If you have any extremes … and the very nature of being extreme is that it excludes other people”, Colin and Daryl add.

Everybody’s talking about revolution
Everybody’s talking about smash the state
Sounds to me like the final solution
Right wing, left wing, full of hate

“Also we never tell you who or what that song is about. It isn’t necessary about somebody and if you explain the song you take away the listeners ability or right to say it relates to my friend or so. As soon as you say that that song goes about Margaret Thatcher it closes it down completely. For example we in Cock Sparrer all had a different understanding of what a lyric was about of a certain new song on the new album. But that’s good about a song everyone can take his own meaning for it”, Colin and Daryl add.

http://www.cocksparrer.co.uk/

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