EVOLVING FROM THE ASHES OF PUNK, INSPIRED BY PEERS AND NUMEROUS FILMS, IN CAMERA CAME ABOUT AS A RESULT OF LIKE-MINDS AND MUSICAL SOLIDARITY. SONGS CAME FROM INSPIRATION, A SINGLE BASSLINE, A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, A POEM, AN EVENT...FEEDBACK? NOISE? TWO BASSES?WHY NOT?!DISCO HI-HATS? A CLARINET? WHY NOT?!... THE ERA LEFT US WITH A 9 SONG LEGACY, PLUS VARIOUS BOOTLEGS, DEMOS, AND REHERSAL TAPES ALL OF WHICH ILLUSTRATE A CREATIVE AND INTENSE TWO YEARS TOGETHER.
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"London 1978. A very different animal to today’s sprawl. Punk had left it’s mark upon the nation and things would never be the same again! Thank fuck for that! And so it was! The sounds were raw, honest, thoughtful and strong. When you’re inspired, you vanquish your surroundings; Your predicament! From Stratford, Brixton, Wandsworth and Plaistow. Fiercely independent! Fiercely protective! We rehearse, we gig, we demo. Lyrics are almost free-form... Urban paranoia, depression, domestic servility, anti-war tirades, suicide, Orwellian future fallout, Roman Legion death squads... Our love of film informing our songs as much as any other inspiration... A soundtrack to our lives."
STEINER: I lived in East London in the days before punk hit an artery. Petty crime was more about having fun than getting rich. Yes, I'm guilty of a few things - arson, thieving, knock down Ginger! Typical ailments of a neighbourhood with little or nothing to offer!
We had a small green in amongst a very concrete surround and no one escaped getting dog shit on their clothes when playing on it. British Bulldog, in particular!
Days were very bleak and the times very naive.
I'd missed Bill Grundy sozzled and goading the Pistols, but the excitement the following day at school was incendiary. Then I heard ‘Did You No Wrong’- the B side to ‘God Save The Queen’ and it was instant.
There was me, Pip on drums, and Rod on guitar.
Rod bore a slight resemblance to 60’s performer Joe Brown, especially his hair, which I always found a little disconcerting. He looked like a jolly punk!
Philips' mother was great! Tired looking woman! I mean truly fucked! Knackered! But she was terrific! She let us rehearse upstairs, loud as we liked! But then what choice did she have?! She was too worn out to protest!
Another of her son’s had his friends in a downstairs bedroom. They were effeminate homosexuals. Trench coats and trilbys! Real Bowie fans! JAPAN meets Quentin Crisp! Kept themselves to themselves! Secretive, or shy, or both! One fell over himself when I said hello to him on the stairs once.
So the house was like a youth club. Noisey! Smokey! Beery! Punks and Queers! No one had a problem with anyone! Then one night Kate Bush with Wuthering Heights happened and everyone was glued to the box. I was already in love with Siouxsie and now there was Kate!
PETE: In March 1977, I saw Subway Sect open for The Clash at Guilford Civic Hall. The energy was compulsive, but so was the eclectic audience, and the gig became a turning point for me as far as attitude and music went. I moved back up to London soon after, where I shared a freezing cold house, 205 Railton Road, Brixton, with my sister Fay, who was in the process of setting up an independent clothes outlet with her best friend, Wendy Williams. Apart from the motley group of squatters living next door to us, I was the only white kid on the block; I thought nothing of it. Brixton Market was a vibrant emporium selling esoteric food stuff and clothing, while The Ritzy cinema became a regular haunt; after many a late night showing, I would walk back up Railton Road at 2.00 am, politely declining whispered offers of weed from the Rastas milling around the doorway of the Mecca betting shop. I devoured both films & music, soaking up the transitional phase of the latter that had been green-lit by punk. After coasting through many mundane jobs, I ended up working in the now defunct Our Price Records, Charing Cross Road, a haven of sorts where I could grab hold of all the vinyl available. By this point I had become an avid Siouxsie & the Banshees fan, and would see them live wherever and whenever I could, gobsmacked by the fact that such a unique outfit had yet to be signed. I constantly wore a small Siouxsie badge, and it was this that future IN CAMERA drummer and fellow Banshees fan Jeff Wilmott noticed when he ambled into the shop one day and struck up conversation; a spark was ignited. Jeff ultimately became my Banshee partner, and the obsession was ubiquitous.
JEFF: My folks had ingrained a deep love of music in me, themselves being very musical. Me mum had sung in a concert party during the war and my dad could hold a tune. He had a rather large record collection that would be aired every Sunday morning thru dinner; the obligatory English Sunday roast. My uncle Horace played drums in various bands that played in pubs and working mens clubs. It was a typical, paint the brush, old time style he had but I’d just sit up the front of the stage watching all of the musicians. Usually, playing air drums or slapping my thighs. The family used to tell tales of me banging on saucepans and boxes with utensils and sticks. One of my dad’s 45’s captivated me; Sandy Nelson’s ‘Let There Be Drums’. I was told I had drumming in the blood. My great grandfather had served in the Boer War and I still have his campaign medal which is inscribed to Drummer Geoffrey Wilmott. So then when punk came around it was natural that since all my friends were starting bands that I would want to also, as a drummer. There were several snags however. No drum kit, no money, still in grade school. Like David, I too had missed the original airing of the Bill Grundy interview, but no one escaped the ensuing Filth and Fury which was, I suppose my first exposure to punk. My classmate, Mick Atkins, who had introduced me to Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bowie, Roxy, convinced me that I’d like the music of the Pistols if I gave ‘em a chance. Sure enough, I wore out my copy of Anarchy in the UK, - that, and just about any single that was released by the bands of the moment. All my school lunch money went to records rather than food. Another big musical influence on me was Andy Scott. Andy had gone to the same school as Mick and I but was several years older. He’d drummed for his older brother, Ken’s band. He had guitars and amps in his room, (so cool) we shared many interests outside of music too. At first he was kind of stand offish, Mick and I being so much younger than him and his brother, but eventually I suppose he recognized kindred spirits, and we became firm friends. He introduced me to Hawkwind; Simon King being a major influence on my early style I think, along with other more obvious drumming styles, Bonham, Cozy Powell (‘Dance with the Devil’). I always seemed to like stuff especially if the drums were heavily featured. Even the Glitter Band had a part in my musical vocabulary. The primary influence, however, was the Banshee's Kenny Morris; But that came a little later.
STEINER: I abandoned school at 16 and got a job as a silk screen printer. Then a textile cutter. The money I made, paid for, and paved the way for my own interests, mostly going to gigs and supporting the band! First outfit I ever saw was The Pop Group, Y is still one of my top ten albums. They were supporting The Stranglers at the Roundhouse. Later saw Adam at the Marquee with the old Ants. Myself, Cookie, Darren from Wasted Youth, (God rest him), and some other guy. From the back of the venue, we somehow found ourselves at the front and got covered in gob by Adams' hardcore fans to such a ridiculous level, we left. Later I saw Siouxsie And The Banshees at the Roundhouse with Penetration and The Buzzcocks on the bill. I hadn't met Pete at that point and I later learnt he was at the same gig.
JEFF: The night Marc Bolan died, Mick and I were at a party thrown by Andy and Ken Scott at their mum’s place. This was my first all-night party, (caught hell for it too, since I hadn’t told me mum and dad. Mum shows up on their doorstep next morning… “You! Home!”). Andy and Ken had formed The Tickets for whom Mick and I roadied, tagged along everywhere with the big kids. This party garnered all of the East End’s punk royalty at the time and anyone who was anyone on the scene then was there. I desperately wanted to join a band, and it was at this party that I got introduced to Rocco Barker who said he knew someone who was looking to start a band. He gave me David’s number and I called him at a later date, but I still didn’t have a drum kit. The resulting audition didn’t go too well as a consequence, and on account of my age too, I think! It’s not hard to imagine that I wasn’t taken too seriously.
PETE: One day Jeff came into the shop and mentioned that he knew someone in Stratford, East who was looking for a bass player. By now it was 1978, I'd just turned twenty, and punk had morphed into post-punk.
STEINER: Jeff put us in contact with Pete who was looking to join a band. I bought a bass and Pete set about trying to play something. I thought Pete was great. I liked the way he looked and I liked the fact he had a knowledge about film and music. Meant we had stuff to talk about. But it was a “no” from Rod, which was tough for me. So we struggled on. Tried numerous names. The Elastic Band, The Wicked!, nothing was sticking. Then one day Rod came to rehearsal and announced he'd popped into Our Price where Pete worked, and had invited him to join.
PETE: I'd never touched a bass before, having previously only mucked about on a Chad Valley guitar and amp combo, but never getting to grips with six strings. Jeff mentioned the guitarist called Rod, who one day came into the shop to take me down to Stratford East to meet vocalist David Steiner (17). Rod was a boy of few words, and we sat mostly in silence on the Central Line down to the East End. When I arrived at David's Mum's house, he was dressed in leather trousers from Sex, an olive green mohair jumper and studded belt; frontman material indeed. A rehearsal was arranged. At this point Jeff was not drumming with the fledgling outfit, the drum stool occupied instead by a kid called Pip. At the school hall where the rehearsal took place, David showed me the bass he had picked up for £45.00 from a second-hand shop. It was a beat up Hofner Artist from the late 60's, and as soon as I started playing I knew this was my calling, and always would be. Although I immediately felt bonded to the bass, Rod and Pip weren't so sure I had the capability; though David could see the potential and appreciated my enthusiasm. Eventually, Rod and Pip acquiesced. An opportunity came about to play a gig at Walthamstow College, where half way through the second track a full scale fight broke out in the audience. David, spotting his brother Francis amongst the melee, leapt off the stage to honour commitment and the whole thing ended as speedily as it had started.
STEINER: With Pete in the band things immediately shifted, Pip left us. Enter Derwent. Derwent was a good kid. As a drummer he was chaotic; over zealous; and it was hard work. We tried to get him to think differently about the way he approached his drumming, but one thing I’ve learnt in life is, ‘It is what it is! It ain’t nothing else’! On the bright side; we were able to make a start structuring new ideas. His dad was a taxi driver, lovely man! Made teas and sandwhiches for us all. He really backed his boy and it was a true shock when he died suddenly. Then Rod went; Chose the Post Office! Now we were voice, bass and drums. We then put an advert in Melody Maker for a guitarist and suddenly I was walking towards Andrew Gray at Walthamstow Central line station.
ANDREW. I had been looking through the Musicians wanted ad's in M.M. for the last couple of months and had been for a few auditions. These were a nightmare; as all of these so called groups just wanted to play post punk covers; which I was not into at all. I see the ad that David & Pete had placed in M.M, so that evening I walk down to my local telephone box and phone the number. On the end of the line was Pete; We have a conversation and arrange a time for the audition - 4pm that coming Sunday. I arrive at Walthamstow underground station with my brother Steve for moral support. Standing at the entrance to the station, I notice a tall dark haired figure walking towards us, I turn to my brother and say "I think this is one of them", David comes up to me and he says "Are you Andrew?" I reply "Yes". We head towards Derwent’s house. Enter the front room - Derwent on drums, Pete standing with his bass, amp and cab behind him. We all talk for a while. Eventually, I take out my guitar & Coloursound fuzz Wah pedal and plug into Pete's amp. They play me some tracks they have been working on, I thought “Great! No bloody covers!” I start to play along, all goes well. Then Dave asks me, if I had some ideas, I'd been working on, I start to play a piece, which had a start/stop riff motion, Derwent picks up with a strong tribal beat, Pete adds driving bass line and Dave with voice, we all look at each other and sense that this all might be working. The next time I speak to Dave & Pete, by the end of the call I have become a part of IN CAMERA.
PETE: Andrew fitted the group ethos like a calfskin glove and we knew we'd found our man. Rehearse, gig sporadically, finally ending up playing Stratford East's Theatre Royal, and in the audience was Jeff Wilmott. By this point, David, myself and Andrew realised it wasn't working with Derwent, his influences and style contrasting with ours. Derwent, bless him, had to go.
JEFF: I was in the audience for the IN CAMERA gig at the Theatre Royal when they played with Wasted Youth. I knew immediately that their more thoughtful style was where I wanted to be heading musically. But the drummer they were using, I suppose it was Derwent, though talented, was totally miscast in the band. He was a Keith Moon type, with misplaced rolls, that distracted from the whole. I filed all that info away and when I got the call that they’d like me to try out; I jumped at the chance. Uncle Horace had given me an old kit of his. It was a Premier pre-international three piece kit. It still had pig skins heads on it. I stripped it all down of hardware and painted it gloss black (much more suitable) and forced modern drum heads onto the shells.
STEINER: Derwents’ whacking around the kit like a ‘child on sugar’, was throwing the timing out too much. He was drumming on his own and it wasn’t getting any better. Then, as fucking luck would have it, Derwent left us! That saved us all from feeling shitty and guilty and rotten. All’s well that end’s well!
JEFF: Following Ken and Andy’s band around inevitably led to being a regular at the Bridge House in Canning Town. It was from the Bridge House Crew (Punk United) that I finally joined a band. Andy Scott gave me an old snare drum, and a couple of cymbals and I was off and drumming for The Corvettes. At first I just joined Steve Pear (guitar) and Paul Spicer (bass) no vocals yet. We rehearsed in Steve’s mum and dad’s garage in East Ham near the White Horse Pub. Somehow, Paul and Steve convinced Lee Drury to become the singer of the band. Lee was one of the most popular members of Punk United. Tall, good looking, great personality, and he could sing too. Perfect front man. I don’t know how long it took him to get over his reticence, but I think both Lee and I were the major musical influences on the band. Lee with his Ramones’ bent; me with my Banshees persuasion. The Corvettes played several gigs in and around the East End. But it came to a tragic end when Paul Spicer was killed by a hit and run driver one night. We just stopped being a band together after that but my friendship with Lee has lasted to this day. I think of him as the brother I never had.
PETE: Jeff Wilmott (16) fitted the bill, and after an initial rehearsal he dovetailed into the band and IN CAMERA was whole. So once more we rehearse, but it feels right now, solid, everything coalescing. Eventually we find ourselves supporting Bauhaus at ex-strip club Billy's, Soho. It’s rammed thanks to Bauhaus and the gig's a blinder. Jah Wobble is in the audience, as are Peter Kent and Ivo Watts-Russell from 4AD (Axis Records at the time). Afterwards they come to the dressing room and say would you like to make a record or two or three. David, four sheets to the wind, and needing to crash, ends up breaking into our van with his Yale front door key.
STEINER: I had drunk 9 watered down pints and two shorts the night we played Billy’s and I kept going up for air; which probably made things worse! I’d spent the night having a laugh with the prostitutes in the brothel next door. They were humouring me and I was flirting with them knowing things were safe, coz nothing was going to happen! But I remember very well Pete coming over to me in the club and saying there were a couple of guys that wanted to talk about recording with their label.
PETE: The first single is the double A side, ‘Die laughing/Final Achievement’. Soon after, we record the EP IV Songs, including instrumental ‘The Conversation’. The session for this track was on a Sunday, and the previous day we had asked for an upright piano to be sent to the studio. On arriving, we found that an electric piano had been sent instead, totally useless for what we had in mind! We eventually managed to borrow one from the Theatre Royal, Stratford East and finally put the track down.
ANDREW: We had been together for about 8 months or so. Jeff was a more solid, diverse drummer! We had recorded our first 7” single with 4AD, and now we were going back to Blackwing for the second time to record the IV Songs EP. Blackwing at that time was really a rehearsal studios with an 8 track recording studio tagged on the end of the building which was in fact an old church. We had three days to record & mix the four songs with Eric Radcliffe & John Fryer co-producing. We had enjoyed their input on the 7”. By the time of recording the EP, we had really developed as a group and these new songs were quite different from our initial single. We were all watching independent films on T.V. and at the cinema. With this interest came film score, which made us approach the songs in a different way for the production on this record. The method of recording IN CAMERA was to keep things as live as possible! Pete, Jeff & myself in the live room! Amp's, drums mic'd up and screened off from each other! All wearing headphones and playing live! Recording to half inch tape - 4 tracks for drums, 1 for bass and 1 for guitar, David was in the control room, on the mic, giving us guide vocals, with Eric & John at the mixing desk and tape. We would generally get the backing down in 1 or 2 takes, EQ, mix and bounce the drums to 2 tracks, L&R! David would step in to the live room and lay down a final vocal, with occasional vocal overdub, depending on the song. Then, I would lay down a guitar/noise overdub.
PETE: More gigs followed, traveling to and fro in a beat up red Ford Transit that we'd bought from a builder for 200 notes. We hated it. It never started in the mornings and constantly broke down. On the way to a gig in Oxford, David and Jeff took it in turns to lean out the window to stop the windscreen wipers once it had finished raining! Traveling up to Manchester to play with MASS, David spots Peter Kent's car with the band in it, and so promptly 'moons' out the window, causing much mirth.
JEFF: Punk had been officially declared dead by the music press. The Pistols had imploded, but Lydon had gone on to better things in my opinion. Sure, I loved the Pistols, but I adored Public Image Ltd. My beloved Banshees had finally signed a record deal, and Howard Devoto had transcended the Buzzcocks musically with Magazine, whom I also adored. Music was definitely changing.
PETE: Our sound and lyrics were dense, but we were always up for a laugh, anything for a smile. We also, all loved films, and would go to countless screenings. This culminated in a trip to the ABC, Shaftsbury Avenue to see Apocalypse Now, a group of about ten of us who were chomping at the bit, having read so much about Coppola's classic up until this point; needless to say, we were all blown away. The lyrics for the track ‘Apocalypse’ came before we'd seen the film, inspired by an Alexander Walker piece in The Evening Standard on the rough-edit shown at Cannes; We were deeply interested in the events of Vietnam. David and myself attended veteran war photographer Tim Page's talk at the I.C.A. Jeff would go on to start wearing his full Colonel Kilgore outfit for gigs. Much of our rehearsing was done where I lived in Brixton, shunting all the gear to a small back room. We then re-located to Herne Hill up the road, my Scottish neighbour Bill recommending 'Fat' Peter's place, an amateur photographer whose walls were festooned with pictures of girls in various states of undress; a suitably seedy setting for a London that had yet to be homogenised.
STEINER: Our rehearsal room in Brixton was ideal. It served us well. Perfect space! We galvanized in that place. Locked in! One regret is not taking any photos in the room – It had these palm trees painted on the wall behind where Jeff sat and drummed! Looked great! When it came to live, some of our better nights were playing with MASS. We shared a similar ethos so playing with them made for a good night… Live – We played hard! Yeah, we dropped a stitch on occasion, but so what?! I like a bit of ‘piss and vinegar’ in my music! Some dirt! But that’s me; I’m like that! I like lines in a face!
PETE: IN CAMERAS’ stage entrances were now heralded by Neu's 'Super 16', a track we all loved from the great German band. A John Peel session came up at the end of 1980, something which we were all enthusiastic about. But from the off, the producer tried to mould our sound into something that wasn't us, and so, after a major row, he walks out of the studio like a petulant child, and so the band and engineer produce the three tracks that resulted, the energy and anger inherent within them all. Our penultimate gig is at the Marquee, supporting The Psychedelic Furs, 1-8-81. We were supposed to play two nights, but after being denied a sound check on the first night, we thought, fuck it, and pulled out of the second. The gig was recorded on someone's Sony Walkman with fading batteries, the tracks resurrected 35 years later, two of which are included on the 2015 album, Era. Later, we played a gig somewhere in Richmond that turned out to be our last.
STEINER: Seeing something of this country did me good. Places, people! Small adventures! There was always something and someone at the end of the motorway! Then there were those who ventured with us - Rockabilly Steve who came to a number of gigs with us in the van and who achceived his perfect hairstyle using soap of all things! Erazerheads’ Lee and Yvonne too, who journeyed with us on a number of occasions – They Stopped us on the motorway whilst on the way to Oxford once for a pee, and kept us all waiting, while they had sex in the bushes. The smiles on their faces when they emerged was a picture! Then Suze, who tinkled the piano with us on The Conversation and who took the wheel on occasion! Andrews’ brother, Steve. ‘Square headed’ John the Postman, John Jasper, Nino. The men from MASS, Mick and Gary - Still see them. From Stratford, Brixton, Wandsworth and Plaistow; Across the capital; we somehow, through our interest in film, music, politics and poetry; found each other, joined forces, and established IN CAMERA.
JEFF: The thing I remember most about being in the band was the fun we had just rehearsing and being together. David was always entertaining us and making us laugh. Since he was from Stratford, and me Plaistow, and in close proximity (the other two being from South and South West London) David and I became very close. My other brother I never had. We would hang out together at his parents place playing cards (the best times). We’d travel to rehearsals together courtesy of London Transport and just have so much fun pretending not to know each other on the train, acting out little scenes to entertain ourselves and other travelers. Looking back, my only regret was that we didn’t take it all seriously enough. We should have worked harder and gone out and took it rather than sitting back waiting for it to come. We sure did have fun though. I learned so much from the other guys too. I was the baby in the band and really learned how to think creatively by hanging out with the others. They quite probably saved me from the fate that befell the Scott brothers and Mick Atkins and their Wasted Youth. We were an art club, and avoided the rock and roll drug scene altogether.
"Maybe subconsciously we desired the same goal - To offer sounds to ourselves that others would appreciate. No contacts; no formal training; no money; but all of this meant nothing compared to that which evolved, that excited us, that propelled us forward. As a band, we were briefly blessed with the equal opportunities punk and post-punk afforded. Where's all the energy, anger, swagger, attitude, danger and imagination from that era gone? What we stood for sonically, at that particular point in time, was a springboard for many things in our lives...All of them creative, wild, and passionate."