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“We’re not down with the cool crowd!”


Wonk Unit came up with their name when you were laying a crazy paving driveway. Led by Alex Johnson, a builder, they’re a positive, hilarious punk band who’ll win your hearts over with their brilliant tracks. You may have seen them supporting Slaves, their mates, at UEA last year. In any case, they’re playing a headline show at Te Owl Sanctuary this month for a mere £5, and I had a proper nice chinwag with Daddy Wonk himself about the punk ethos, being sober and the therapeutic benefits of poetry.

Can you describe your band to me for those who haven’t heard or seen you before? We are a friendly bunch of silly chaps, we’re very positive human beings, we take out music incredibly seriously but we don’t take life seriously. We are the coolest band in the world but also seriously not cool for school. We’re not down with the cool crowd! We don’t give a shit; there are no rules. You manage the band yourself and tour endlessly. Are you able to hold down a day job as well? I am a builder. We played Oslo last night and today I’m sorting out my tools and I’m back on site tomorrow morning. It’s coming up to Wonkfest, your punk festival taking place in Tufnell Park in London. Norwich’s Ducking Punches are playing as well as one of our favourite new acts from Stevenage, Bad Breeding. Yeah you introduced me to Bad Breeding! I’m don’t really listen to music – I like making and performing music in the same way as I like skateboarding. It’s kinda like my AA. I’m an ex alcoholic; I’ve been sober for 17 years, so music helps me in that

18 / June 2016/

way. Wonkfest is all about the new bands. Up until a few years ago the punk scene was run by all the old dinosaurs and they held no interest for me whatsoever. But what has happened since we started Wonkfest was suddenly you’ve got Manchester Punk Festival, Te Gathering in Liverpool, Podstock in Norwich – people doing their own mini Wonkfests. What does the word punk mean to you? I’ve been involved in the UK punk scene since 1992, and for me it’s always been about the music. When Snuff appeared and changed punk forever in my eyes they blew me away, and I’ve always been more into the punk sound than the political movement. Even though we agree with 99.9% of the politics of punk Wonk Unit and Wonkfest aren’t into preaching to the converted and we won’t use ‘punk’ as a tool to gain more fans. Because of the state of this country and the current government it’s now impossible to ignore what’s happening - inequality, people starving all around the world. So Wonk Unit are becoming more politically

active but that’s just because we’re humans rather than punks. We can’t ignore the fact that we live in a very unfair society now. Punk is still considered by some to be an underground genre despite its popularity and I wondered why you think that might be? Te DIY underground is thriving at the moment, it’s happening right now. Our good friends Slaves have come from the UK underground and are bringing punk to the mainstream. You’ve got the DIY underground, which is definitely an underground subculture, and then you’ve got punk with the studs and leather as the public see it. I think they’re two very different things – our punk has Utopian values, the other sort of punk is more interested in drinking cider. You’ve been busy recording your new album Mr Splashy which you recently debuted at a gig in Brixton. How did the new songs go down? Well, it was horrendous because my bass player didn’t bother learning the songs! He’d had a year to learn them! I mean it went down surprisingly well considering he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. It was a really great evening, and most of our gigs sell out now which is nice

and there was a happy vibe. Why is it called Mr Splashy? Because when I used to have a wash at my mum and dad’s house, my mum would come in a say “Mr Splashy’s been here again” because I splashed water all over the sink and all over the place. Have you always written words to help you express yourself through songs and poetry? 90% of my songs start as poems, I don’t traditionally write songs or music, just poetry. Every so often I look at a poem from my blog and I go I’m going to write some music to this poem. My poetry started off as a laugh in the old MySpace days, I used to write Shakespearean building poetry about me being a bricklayer, totally taking the piss really. I found I quite enjoyed creative writing so I wrote a book and did a lot of writing about sex. You’re playing at our beloved Owl Sanctuary next month. Have you been to the new venue yet? I haven’t, no. I loved the old Owl, and when I was there, that’s when Michael Jackson died, and so forever I will associate that with that place. Norwich is brilliant, I can’t wait to get back there.

Lizz Page

INFORMATION Wonk Unit play Te Owl Sanctuary on 17th June. Tickets priced at just £5 are available from sanctuary. Read the full interview online at

photos by Mark Richards

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