Monday, 3 October 2011

Merv Shields Interview

Interview conducted live on 2nd of October 2011 by Jäsä Ainaskin.

AINASKIN: Hello Merv, could you tell us how did you end playing bass for Skrewdriver ?

MERV: Basically I came to London as a Punk in 1983 but I had embraced the Skinhead culture since 1979 so with my Protestant work ethic I decided to seek work and it was easier to dress smart in order to substantiate this.

I knew Adolf through Pubs and Gigs and he got me a job working with him humping antique furniture at a shop in Islington. I happened to mention to him that I had previously played bass in a punk band and when Adam Douglas left he mentioned my name.

I'd already seen the band a few times, embraced their politics and liked their music. So Ian suggested I come down to Marks for an audition, played along to a few songs and was asked to join.

I joined the band around September/October 1986. Adam Douglas had just left but I remember him coming over from Orange in France where he was serving with the Foreign Legion. Paul was still on the scene but had turned Biker. My initial recruitment was held at Mark Sutherlands house/rehearsal studio in Bow, East London where he commented that my Eros Mark 2 Bass sounded like a wet fart.

I was then supplied with a Fender Mustang Bass with a short neck which had allegedly been stolen by Sid and Nancy from a rehearsal room in North London. I rejected this as i was 6'tall and did'nt equate to playing a short neck bass...

AINASKIN: When did you first play live with Skrewdriver?

MERV: First Gig, East Croydon, Railway-Mans Social Club, November/December 1986 .Mark Sutherland on Drums .Swainy on Guitar .Me on Bass. Pre Ian Guitar on vocals. 4-Piece Line-Up.

AINASKIN: Care to comment anything on your Skrewdriver recording sessions?

MERV: First album I (allegedly) played on was White Rider. I was the Paul Simenon of the band so any initial imput would have probably been overdubbed by Mark.

I played my first summer festival in 1987 by which stage Martin Cross was recruited as Lead Guitar but I remember Swainy playing there as his last gig. He lived in Hatfield which was a big Red Action area and he was always paranoid about getting sussed. Basically in all honesty I was more useful to Ian as a front Man live, due to my technical in-experience in the studio. I had no problems with that as I would rather leave all the Muso stuff to Ian and Mark.

Around about early 1987 Martin Cross came on board. He was a shit hot guitarist and what impressed me about him was the fact he was very melodic and competent. In both our cases we were recruited by word of mouth due to the nature of our music. Ross McGarry was later recruited on this basis but the common denominator to all this was a guy called Adolf (Alan Pond). He suggested me and Ross but Martin came from elswhere which led to an air of suspision. Martin was an old skin from 1977-78 but due to our close-knit affinity he was always an outsider. Martin and I joined around the same time. Then John Burnley who we all knew before and got on with. Initially I gelled with Martin as we both came on board more or less together but he did have a reputation for violence as I found out to my cost later on. John was basically a casual/football thug who carried a blade and wasn't afraid to use it but him and I got on like brothers as he was basically a really nice bloke. But with Martin, although we had similar points of view politically regarding Ulster I found he could freak out at a moments notice. Even Ian was cautious of him and tried to keep him at a distance.

AINASKIN: How and what made you to quit on Skrewdriver ?

MERV: Forgetting any conspiracy theories. Man to Man Jäsä, and avoiding any rhetoric. I left the band in September 1989.

Ian had moved the Skrewdriver concept up to Derbyshire which I agree whole-heartedly with because of all the hassle he was getting in London. But the core fan-base was always in London and the home counties and a lot of true believers thought that this was a cop out.

Also John, Ross and I were still based in London as were most of the Security. Gigs started being staged in Derbyshire, Nottingham shire etc...

And as most of us were working and gigs up north tended to be mid-week it took a toll on taking a Wednesday off plus a Thursday to recover.

So 2 days off a week on a low income. Rehearsals were stilll being held in London once a week but at the time I had a child on the way and decided to inform Ian that i would honour any forthcoming gigs for the next 6 months but feasibility in playing outside London was not an option I was prepared to commit to.

AINASKIN: And what about nowadays, do you still follow the music scene, attend concerts etc...?

MERV: I do occasionally. In respect of royalties. No. From my inception in the band I done through love. I never made or expected any revenue from the band. To me it was an experience I was gifted and I was privileged and honoured to be part of something. Finished up in 1989. Nearly 49 years old now. My politics have mellowed but I still adhere to the legacy of the band. Still going out to Punk/Skin gigs in Belfast and will ALWAYS love this music until I die......REGRETS......None whatsoever...

Jäsä ... I've had 2 serious relationships in my life. Both KAPUT, 2 sons, 22 and 20. Don't speak to me. No Car. Mortgage. Live in rented accomodation alone. Would I change my life........NO CHANCE........Would i do it all over again. ..DEFINITELY.....!!!

AINASKIN: Thank you for this chat session Merv, any last words?

MERV: Mate. I've had a few personal issues over the last year so apololgies for not keping in touch. Nothing personal Mate. Last Words...?????...Johnny Cash thought he had a hard life. LOL


Horst said...

Hi, i found this article ´cause i googled for a guy namend Alan "Adolf" Pond who is named right here. I´m from Nuremberg in Germany and Alan was friend of mine in the late 80´s. If anyone knows how to cnatact him please leave me a message or tell Alan about this search so he will contact me. Thanks a lot and kind regards from Nuremberg - Horst

Mirko Savage said...

Horst, please leave me your e-mail address. Or simply contact me at:
The Editor