An interview by Mike Barry:
You have celebrated your 25th Anniversary not so long ago? How do you feel about it? What did you do for this special occasion? What can we expect in the future of Easter and the Totem?
Ok So the 25th Anniversary was held in a pub in Penge South London.Somewhere theres a dvd and some interviews I must dig it out.The future for the band is a brand new 4 track ep recorded in Deptford South London.judging by the sound of the unmastered tracks it rocks like a beast.
Looking in retrospective, how did the band came together? What year was it? who were the members and what was the main reason to start a band?
Agit Pop A 2 cd compilation
Questions about our history can be found on the Totes History which is on a blog on the website www.myspace.com/easterandthetotem25 and www.westnilerecords.com
Why did you choose the name? Anything to do with Easter island?
The name comes from a painting by Jackson Pollock..On the second album cover "The sum is greater than its parts" there is a drawing of the Easter Island Statues.
You are a self proclaimed agit-pop band, how politically involved were you back in the days and today? Do you feel there's a big difference from the 80s and this decade? Has UK advanced in a good direction you think?
The difference between now and the 80s is that Governments have sold off most of the silverware and the people are now paying the price. I dont think anyone believes that privatisation ws a good idea now.I think the way the UK has moved on is full of wasted opportunities and a disastrous war with Iraq.
If you had the chance to have a chat with Margaret Thatcher back in the day, what would you have asked, or demanded, her?
I wouldnt have anything to say to Thatcher she is personally responsible for the ruin of many lives and communities.A lot of people will have a party when she finally drops dead.Me included!
Many of your records go for big bucks on eBay. How do you feel about this? Did you expect being a collector's band? Will there be a reissue of the old stuff? Where can people get the recent stuff?
The value of records will always be in the music. We have had a good laugh when weve seen some of the prices. We have tried to put out most of the stuff from that era on CD and Itunes Cd Baby.Some of the quality of the pressings wasnt great so we tried to use the masters wherever possible.
What was the full discography of the band?
Full discography is on the history of the band.
What are your favourite songs of your repertoire and why?
Personally I have always liked Co-conspirator and Days after. Modern Romantic always seemed to be a crowd favourite. Other band members have different favourites like Acid Reign Distant generations
You played lots of gigs, many of them being benefit gigs. Which were the gigs you remember the most and why?
We played a great gig at the Amersham Arms supporting Squeeze. Truly the place was rocking. Gigs in Brighton were always good fun too. Benefit gigs for the the Gulford 4 Campiagn will always remain special to me personally Especially when Paul Hills Auntie Teressa spoke to the crowd about the savage injustice of the case.
Speaking of benefit gigs, you were never for the money when making music, so what were you doing as a job back then?
My job at the time was working for the Railway Trade Union the National Union of Railwaymen. Nowadays I work for the same organisation in Glasgow Scotland.
You also started a label. Care to tell me a bit more about it? Why did you started? Which bands did you released? What is more fun, having a band or a label?
Starting a label is great fun Running the label is a pain in the arse paperwork wise etc but a great joy to see a song written recorded and pressed up without anyone interfearing. Jumping around onstage in a band will always be better than running a label.
What was the biggest highlight of the band, maybe being single of the week on NME?
There have been many great moments both funny and from a musical achievement point of view.Biggest highlight was probably recording the last EP I really think all the years of playing with the same musicians creates a wonderful atmosphere. Some of the people who have played in the band are the finest human beings that I have ever had the pleasure to know.
Anything else you'd like to add or tell all of us who believe in international socialism?
I remain a dedicated Democratic socialist and Trade Unionist and the recent recession/depression is conclusive proof to me that capitalism is no way to run the world. As long as children are living on rubbish dumps while the uber rich lock themselves away on their yachts everyone should strive for a better way and the governments have a duty to the people they serve to bring about a fundemental and irreversable switch from rich to poor.
"Got any cds mate?" said the two guys at the end of the Totes 20th Anniversary gig. We heard the music from the street and just had to come in to find out who was making that sound. Of course we did. If you've got the "Co conspirator" single its worth 40 euros (check out eBay). If you've got the very first album Hip replacement its worth 20 euros (check out record collector).
All of this came from a group of friends who loved music. Ten of them turned up and played at the reunion. Nobody really leaves Easter and the Totem they just go on sabbatical. When the 2003 album Afraid new world was recorded the people chipped in but the core of Mike Barry, Jocky Mundie, and Dave Pearce did the lions share. Easter and the Totem is an idea really, a south London socialist idea but there is more to the songs than that. Some bear a heavy influence of Existentialism, Some are cut up technique. Occasionally some are just love songs (although this is rare). Musically the band are the gap between other South London bands like Squeeze and ATV (both of whom Easter and the Totem supported). Looking for band to play a benefit for the Guilford 4? Ambulance workers benefit? an Unemployed centre fundraiser? they would be there.
Oh and they also founded an Independent label, got distribution through Pinnacle. Had an NME single of the week. Founded a workers coop, helped form a music collective and above all cared. Not everything was rubbish in the 80s. The 80s was a nasty, mean, greedy time to grow up. Looking back many of the songs stand the test of time. This year there will be a 25th anniversary bash. Bet you most of the band turns up.
And Dont forget the 2003 Cd Release Afraid New World Tracks Great Day Some are more equal than others First Snows of Winter Month of Sundays Armaments Act of Faith Modern romantic revisited Immortality cheating world I know who killed rock n roll www.westnilerecords.com
contact Easter and the totem at the links above or through:
West Nile records
47 Carmunnock Road
G44 4UE Edit this biography