Thanks so much to David for the interview! Sirens only released one flexi and they remained in obscurity. I found some time ago a video of theirs on youtube that sounded great. I was lucky enough to contact David from the band to learn a bit more about this long lost Exeter band!
++ Hello David! Thanks so much for getting in touch! I was really curious for long time about the video you posted on Youtube from your old band. Care to tell me how did this video came about?
Hi, Johnny (drums), Steve (guitar/vocals) and myself (bass) were studying film at Art College and we shot this video on 16mm Newsfilm and got the local news station to tag it onto their developing reel for free (in those days C86 the news was shot on film). I filmed it in my student bedsit. Simon Pledger was in the band at the time and it’s him in the video.
++ So let’s go back in time, when did Sirens start as a band? And how did you all knew each other?
We met at art college where we were studying fine art. That was 1984-1986. Exeter Art Colege has closed down now – but it was a great time. We were allowed to do anything!
++ Was this your first band?
++ So how was Exeter as a scene then? Any other good bands that you enjoyed there? Which clubs did you hang out at?
There wasn’t much of a scene in Exeter at the time, although a band called The Visitors had featured on an Are You Scared To Get Happy flexi disc. But the local scene was many pub acts and covers bands… there were no decent venues but we used ton put on a few bands at the local Arts Centre including the likes of The Flatmates. Also bands like The Wedding present and The Wolfhounds were playing at the time. Mainly we used to go and see bands in Bristol which had a great indie scene, I remember a club called the Tropic and something called Big Rock Candy Mountain where we saw bands like The Pastels, The Groove Farm, Mighty Mighty etc.
++ What about gigs? What were your favourites? Any anecdotes you could share?
I remember we played with I Ludicrous – a great band – at the Sir George Robey in London. What was that song – Preposterous Tales In The LIfe Of Ken MacKenzie? There was an exciting scene at the time with bands like The Sea Urchins, The Shop Assistants and many more. We were also really into bands like LOOP and Spacemen 3… although the band Steve and I always followed around when they toured the UK was The Cramps.
++ There was a flexi release, right? I’ve never heard about it. When was it released? Was it only that song from Youtube released on it? Was it self-released?
Yeah we self released that Flexi to be used on a ‘zine. Of which the name I have now forgotten. It was our only release although there are more recording knocking aound somewhere.
++ Why and when did you decide to split?
I think we split up when Steve moved to Bristol. Johnny went on to play on a band called Moose and I joined Mad At The Sun (which later became Annalise)
++ After the break up, you went to form a punk band. Usually it’s the other way around isn’t it? That’s cool! Anyways, what big differences were there between Sirens and Annalise?
Yeah shortly after Sirens split I met a guy called Martin Edmunds in Hendersons record shop on Exeter Fore Street and we had a mutual love of the US hardcore scene of the time (Minor Threat, he Minutemen, Black Flag and Guy Picioto’s band Rites Of Spring. MArtin said they needed a bass player and I went to a practise right away. We then decided to bring a bunch of bands from the DIY scene to Exeter and started putting on bands like Snuff, Senseless Things, Fugazi, Verbal Asault & Victim’s Family.)
++ You also started a club in Exeter, The Cavern. Tell me a bit about the story behind the club, and perhaps which have been the best nights that have been hold there?
After a while putting bands on in local pubs got to difficult. In those days pub landlords saw bands as a guy with a hammond organ playing covers, so when bands from the hardcore scene like Cowboy Killers turned up to take over their skittle alley it wasn’y long before they decided to pull the plug!. We realised we needed our own venue and approached the owner of a closed down bar called The Hop And Grapes to see if we could do shows there. That was the start of The Cavern. Our first ever show there was on St Valentine’s Day 1991 with a US punk band called QUICKSAND. At the time we set up a loose collective known as Hometown Atrocities and released a couple of split EPs. One of them is extremely rare now because it features the first recorded performance of Thom Yorke. He was part of the Hometown Atrocities Collective and was in a band called Headless Chickens with Shack from Lunatic Calm and Flickernoise.
We have done ten of thousands of bands since then including the likes of Sick Of It All, Muse, Coldplay, LaRoux, Samiam etc etc. Its the Cavern’s 20th anniversary this St Valentine’s Day….
++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks again for the interview! Anything else you’d like to add?
The Exeter scene has a few strong bands in it these days. Pippa (who owns the Cavern with me) manages a cool punk & roll band called the Computers who have just signed to One LIttle Indian and there are also OK PIlot, The Cut Ups, Iko, and loads more…who have grown up seeing shows at the Cavern.