Beki and Stephen Straughan are possibly the hardest working couple in punk rock at the moment, Beki is active in Chaos 8, Stephen, also known as Steve Racket, is active in Hi Fi Spitfires and the Angelic Upstarts, and has recently become the guitarist for the UK Subs, as if that wasn’t enough both of them are in Loaded 44. I managed to catch them in a rare quiet moment to get an insight into what the future has in store for us from this industrious couple.
Thanks for agreeing to talk to the punksite.com, what have you got in the pipeline for us for the remainder of 2016?
I’ve got the recording studio with Loaded 44 in July. We are releasing a new 4 track EP in time for Rebellion, (which we are playing on the Friday 5th August on the Pavilion stage at 2.40pm) Loaded 44 are at the 100 club in September. And then back to Scotland for the Punktoberfest in Dundee in October. Chaos 8 are set to release our 2nd album in the autumn in time for the Great British Alternative Music Festival at Skegness which we are opening at 4pm on the Introducing stage. Then the launch gig in Newcastle. We’ve got a few gigs lined up further south, just waiting for confirmation so we can announce them. Its all good! As for my day job, Racket Clothing, I’m going to be introducing new lines which are in the planning stage at the moment.
Steve – Firstly I’m doing lots of summer festivals around Europe with the UK Subs. I’m in the recording studio with Loaded 44 in July. I’m playing Rebellion this year with UK Subs, Loaded 44 and Hi Fi Spitfires. Then more festivals with UK Subs. Then the 100 Club with Loaded 44 and HI Fi Spitfires, The Great British Alternative Festival at Skegness with Hi Fi Spitfires and UK Subs, then all around the UK with UK Subs until Christmas!
That’s a frantic 6 months, how do you manage to balance the demands of many projects, by my count that’s 5 different bands and a business to run, is it difficult balancing that workload and touring schedule with a family life?
We have to be organised! We’ve got an A3 sized calendar that is getting too small! Everything is worked out around the bands – our son, who is 14, is a drummer in a band too, so that’s 6 bands to sort out. It can be fun, especially when all 3 of us have gigs in separate places! I work from home so at least I can work on a night to work around school holidays or recording. It all works fine really as long as we are organised. Busy is life!
Steve – Up to now it’s all worked out really well. However, joining the UK Subs has taken priority on the calendar with the extensive tour dates. It’s a busy schedule but it’s what I’m kind of used to, my life being crazy and fucked up! I love it!
Steve, I saw the announcement that you’d been made guitarist for the UK Subs, how did that come about
Jet was unable to do a gig in Aberdeen and Alvin rang me and asked if I would like to stand in for them. I obviously said yes. Then, when Jet left, they rang me and asked if I wanted to be a permanent UK Sub, I obviously said yes! With them being one of my favourite bands, it was an opportunity I embraced and my family is right behind me. Being a fan and a musician, I’ve always respected them for being one of the hardest working bands.
Beki, you mentioned Racket Clothing, tell us some more about that
I’ve always made or altered my own clothes and then I started doing it for Steve when I met him when I was 18. Friends started to ask for stuff to be made or altered and once I had our son and was at home all day I decided to set up shop properly. Racket Clothing has been going since 2006 and its been doing well. I have a website – www.racketclothing.co.uk
– and as I like to keep all my business as personal as possible, each item is made to order and I discuss all the details via email so I know each customer is getting exactly what they want. I do custom orders too. I prefer to keep it as a small, handmade, personal business, rather than have stuff made elsewhere on my behalf. I like to make everything myself. A lot of our friends are in bands so as they were wearing my shirts, other bands were seeing them and ordering from me. I don’t advertise, all my business comes from word of mouth or Facebook. I also do craft fairs where I sell things other than shirts – like knickers, bags, embroidered towels etc. I make things that I would like to have.
Steve – How many gigs per year are The UK Subs doing at the moment, they’ve always been touring as long as I’ve been going to gigs, is Charlie’s age affecting the touring in any way or is the same old indestructible Charlie Harper?
The UK Subs are still busy, July is all festivals in Europe, there’s a week tour of Canada in the autumn, then from the end of October to Christmas its 3 or 4 gigs a week, then early next year we have a 4 week tour of Europe and a 4 week tour of the UK. Its the same old UK Subs, always gigging.
Beki – How are preparations going with the forthcoming Chaos 8 album and tour, the first album was really impressive, have things gone in a different direction on the new album?
The second album, Cause and Effect, is just in its final mixing stage at the moment, the artwork is all done and its looking great. There is still a mix of fast and slower paced songs but I think we have progressed as a band since the first album Burn. There is no different direction, maybe just a bit more angry on this one!
What is your Son’s band called, I also saw he played with The Angelic Upstarts recently, how did that come about?
Steve – Our sons band is called Symbient, its a punk band and they’re all 14 years old and younger. Mensi asked me if Jay would like to get up and play the drums at the fundraiser gig the Angelic Upstarts were having to replace the guitars and bass that had been stolen. Jay chose to play Anti Nazi. I couldn’t be there as I was gigging in Slovakia with the Subs, but Beki was there.
Beki – It was the most proud I’ve ever been I think! I couldn’t even hold the phone to video him, my hands were shaking so much! My friend had to film it. He absolutely loved it, he played great, and the video has had 4800 views so far!
Are there any plans for Symbient to record anything?
Beki – Yes, they are wanting to get an album recorded by October. They’ve been writing their own material so it will be full of original songs. They are doing it all themselves.
Are there any projects in the pipeline,or older bands we need to know about?
Steve – I’m going to record a few more solo tracks for my side project “The Last Gang” and put them on an album with a re-mastered versions from the last EP of solo tracks. I will be recording new versions of the tracks that I wrote from my old band, Holy Racket, and adding one or two new ones that I currently play live with Hi Fi Spitfires but haven’t recorded with them yet. I’m really looking forward to getting that finished.
Well I wish all three of you all the best with all of the bands and projects, As a final question, do you have any particular favourite memories from the gigs and places you’ve been over the years
Steve – I’ve just played an amazing one with the UK Subs, Know The Future Festival in Vienne, France. What made this concert different, apart from being an outstanding line-up, was that it was held in an ancient amphitheatre. It was so good to play. Also another amazing gig was playing Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas with the Angelic Upstarts. In the early days I supported Rancid when I was in Holy Racket.
Beki – I have so many great memories of playing over the years. One of my favourite gigs was with Steve Ignorant’s Last Supper Band. It was in Edinburgh and it was our 4th gig. During the song Shaved Women, it drops right down to drums and bass and all I could hear was the audience starting the chant “In all your decadence people die” which is the lyric that brings the song back in. It was totally brilliant and a great feeling to be part of such a massive song. Also there was Loaded 44’s second visit to Dublin a few years ago when we played Sweeneys. It was a small venue and the audience went completely mad! People were rolling about on the floor and everything.
Thanks for taking the time from your ridiculously busy schedules to talk to the thepunksite.com
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and their website is here
The Hi-Fi Spitfires
website is here
and their facebook page is here
The reverbnation page for Chaos 8
and their facebook is here
The UK Subs
website is here
Beki and Steve are playing a total of three shows at the 2016 Rebellion Festival
in Blackpool, UK, dates, times and stages are below
Loaded 44 are on Friday 5th August at 2.40pm on the Pavilion stage
UK Subs are on Friday 5th August at 9.30pm on the Tower Street Arena stage
Hi Fi Spitfires are on Saturday 6th August at 4.50pm on the Arena stage
Racket Clothing is being included as part of Punk Art at the Rebellion Festival
Photos courtesy of Photorock, Fishbones Photography, Punk Rock Bowling, David Mooney, Dave Uglypunk & Paul Barclay