CAH:- How did you first meet and get involved with Crass?
AT:- A friend had picked up a copy of one of their early demos, which had the address on. I started writing to them and found we got on very well. I went to quite a few of the early gigs in 78/79. I’d find out where they were playing and hitch round the country to see them. I got to know the Poison Girls slightly earlier, I was staying at there house in Epping and made my first trip up to Dial House from there. I’d been sleeping rough for a few months going to gigs, when I arrived at the Poisons house they gave me some clean clothes and a much needed bath. I had a crusty rash on my face and upper body underneath the layers of dirt. They said I had impetigo, sent me to the local doctors and said they’d burn my clothes. I’d forgotten about the impetigo until talking to Steve Ignorant recently, he remembered me having it.
I used to send Penny tapes of my poetry and bands I was in. He liked the spirit of those primitive recordings and wanted to use some for the first Bullshit Detector. By the time it was released most of those tracks were quite old and I was writing a lot in those days.
CAH:- How was it decided that you would do a single for the label?
AT:- Penny recently said that I was always his favourite ‘mad poet’ and that he wanted to record me for posterity. That somebody should anyway. I thought we could use some older material, but Pen thought it best to make some fresh recordings with him. We’d talked about doing a single for a while but it was a case of finding the spare time to actually do it. They were always so busy and so productive.
CAH:- Where and how was it recorded?
AT:- I did a bunch of demos at home of the poems I wanted to include on the single. I thought some of the recording might be useable as they were, though Pen thought they wouldn’t be good enough quality for a single. He had much more experience than me, so I agreed to do them again.
We recorded most of it over a weekend up at Dial House in the rehearsal room. We recorded onto a four track cassette portastudio. All of the vocals and vocal noises were made by Myself, Pen and a friend from Lowestoft called Ian. Afterwards we went into Southern Studios with John Loder to do the mixing. Pen loves to mess about in studios, going over the same things endlessly. I don’t really have the same patience, so I mainly left him to it and went off up to Flux’s house which was a short distance away. Listening to the finished tapes in the studio was great, as it sounded like nothing else on earth, at the time. We were all very pleased with the way it turned out.
CAH:- How did you choose the poems to be recorded?
AT:- I think I had about 15 ready to be recorded, there was only one that got thrown out in the end. It was called ‘A Crucifix For You’ It likened Jesus Christ to a counterculture freak who was silenced then murdered by the state. Pen has very strong views on religion and didn’t like it. I didn’t mind leaving it off at all, It was his shilling after all.
We managed to get about 15 minutes onto the vinyl which is quite a lot for a 7inch single.
CAH:- Were all the tracks recorded released, or did you record more?
AT:- I’m pretty sure everything that was recorded was released. We were building a single artifact rather than just recording a bunch of tracks, then seeing what would fit on there.
CAH:- How was the artwork and packaging done and agreed on?
AT:- I talked about the artwork with Gee about the sort of ideas we wanted to convey. She is such a brilliant artist it’s just so easy to work with her. We came up with the idea of the poster with the animal masks and set about creating it. One of the sheds in the garden was done up with lining paper with printers ink splashed around to simulate blood. In a black & white photo it looks very striking. Steve, Phil & Annie had good fun with the poses, aprt from the fact Steve was quite uncomfortable being hung upside down. I still have a set of phots from that session somewhere.
People these days don’t seem to realise how much time, work and effort Crass put into their work. There was such a phenomenal work ethic within that little cottage in the countryside.
Some bands on the label didn’t like the crass brand so much, that gave the sleeves a common identity. I’d collected records for a while by then and I had the mentality that most collectors seem to have. That labels like Harvest, Stax, Motown, Fly etc, all had there own collective identity, I liked that in the crass label too.
CAH:- I heard that there was some talk of doing an Album and book with Crass, its that true?
AT:- We talked about doing an album on the Corpus Christi label, the simple truth is we just never found the time. Some live stuff was recorded to form the basis, mostly the writing destined for it, was sadly never recorded. I plan to record some new stuff in the near future and may well revisit some of the old stuff at the same time, If I find it still to be valid and relevant.
A book publiher has been asking me for a while to write a biography, with poems in. Apparently poetry on it’s own doesn’t sell so well. I’ve had a few attempts at writing a life story but I don’t think I have the right ego for it. Steve Igs suggested I use a writer like he did with his book recently, which worked really well. It’s that old chestnut again of finding the time.
Thanks again Andy