UK punk band Seven Crowns sound like a cross between Poison Idea, Cosmic Psychos and GBH, which is a pretty good spread when you think about it, but they do also have the odd dark, atmospheric, instrumental development section that you’d hear in bits of Black Flag / Christ-on-Parade / Dead Kennedys and so on, so after hearing that they had teamed up with Amebix legend Stig Miller for a recent EP, we arranged a chat with singer Jon, mainly to, well, just have a chat, like old blokes do. So, our own punk rock enthusiast Dave Cain put on his Kaftan and sandals ( fair enough, that’s a lie, he has dressed like a member of Bestial Invasion-era Destruction for the last 30 years) and went to hippy-hole Bath in Somerset, UK, to find out how these chaps are coping with it all, what they’ve been up to all these years, and what’s in the future.
INTERVIEW BY DAVE CAIN
Can you give us a brief history of the band? Where does the band name originate from?
Seven Crowns began in 2006, we jumped in at the deep end and went on an American tour with the Subhumans. We then toured like machines for several years, North America, Central America, Mainland Europe, and spent a ton of time touring South East Asia. By the time we reached New Zealand we thought we had largely exhausted the possibilities of being on tour and now find ourselves as a boring-old-bloke band that just loves being in the studio. Touring is not over- but we are a right bunch of jaded snobs these days and only really want to play in places we would like to visit anyway. When Indonesia calls- we come running.
We are from Bath in England- a very old Roman city, the Romans noted that like Rome, Bath was also surrounded by Seven hills, also known as the “Seven Crowns”. Or we might be a Norwegian Black Metal band and we are referencing The Old Testament.
I guess you are older guys….when you were younger did you ever think you’d be / still be in a punk band? Is this all Charlie Harper’s fault?
I can only speak for myself, but I knew from a very early age that Punk would be for the rest of my life. The first gig I ever went to was The Damned in 1985, and although I enjoyed myself, it struck me even then as bit “showbiz”. A bit later on I saw Kafka Process/Disorder/Lunatic Fringe at Longacre Hall in Bath and that was me set for ever really. Third gig was the mythical Antisect gig at Longacre hall when Amebix got up unannounced and played the most powerful 15 minutes of music I ever heard,
I was a weirdo kid, and to my surprise this gig was also full of weirdo kids, and that network of weirdo kids stretched all over the world-some of those weirdo kids would become my second family. I rarely-if ever- listen to punk at home these days, but on my dying day I shall still be punk to the bone.
You have an American hardcore leaning – apart from Poison Idea, what other bands are your influences? Who is each band member’s favourite band/artist?
In Mid 1980’s Bath there were no cool record shops where you could buy American imports, and if you could they would be too expensive. You could get hold of Dead Kennedys stuff and the Crucufix album on Spiderleg and that was about it for US Hardcore. But then I got a copy of Let Them Eat Jellybeans and after listening to Side1, pretty much 90% of UK punk became utterly fucking obsolete in an instant. Once I heard “Pay To Cum” all that UK studded leather and mohawk stuff seemed a bit ridiculous and a bit sad. Pantomime. Wattie as the Widow Twanky.
The three albums we would all agree on from that era would have to be –
Bad Brains-Rock For Light
However from a few years later, Poison Idea’s “Feel The Darkness”, was a big influence- amongst all that power and junkie nihilism is a record with genuine “soul”.
Before the current situation, what was the punk scene like in Bath? Were you part of the scene in earlier days?
It was pretty bad, it’s been worse, but it was pretty lame. Over the years it’s come in waves, like a lot of places I guess. I was very lucky to be the right age at the right time when the Bath scene was briefly this unique crossover between punk and the free festival/counterculture that preceded it. There was always an air of the Wicker Man about the Bath scene in those days. When I first went to gigs at The Mermaid in Birmingham I was amazed to see a crowd that wasn’t entirely made up of folks smoking Nepalese hash and tripping on good convoy acid. That pretty much sums up Bath in those days. A vast sea of hippie drugs.
Did Moles and The Green Park Tavern promote a lot of gigs? Do you think the Bath scene will recover?
The Green Park Tavern put up a good fight for several years but fell foul of Gentrification- its now an expensive restaurant. Moles had a pretty full on “no-Punk” booking policy since its opening in ’78- but for the past few years Liam (7C Guitarist) has been booking bands for Moles and now punk gigs are very much welcome. Fingers crossed it will financially survive the lockdowns, I really hope it does- it’s got real history as a music venue, and is one of very few venues in the UK that looks after bands and treats them with respect no matter how “big” or “small” they are deemed. It’s much more like playing a mainland European venue.
Random shots from Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sevencrowns
What is your most stand-out gig to date?
Easy- Mexicali, Mexico.
Venue owned by the Sinaloa Cartel, all the bar staff and a large chunk of the crowd were coked up semi pro boxers. They all start beating the shit out of each other. PA explodes. CS gas grenade let off on the dance floor. Stun grenade explodes in car park .Automatic weapons appear from everywhere.
Once things settle down the owner pulls up in a black Maserati- thanks us for playing his club and pays us more money than we have ever been paid for a gig in our lives.
And any gig in Bangkok ends up memorable. They just do. Our last gig there involved the drummer from Suede and a Banditos M/C clubhouse.
How about a gig in Jane Austen’s house?
Bath tourisms dirty secret is that Jane Austin genuinely hated living in Bath, she thought it was full of decadent rich scumbags and filthy, degenerate beggars. Much as it is now.
What was it like to work with the legend that is Stig Miller?
Working with Stig was a genuine pleasure. I knew Stig from way back in the mid-80’s, the Amebix were “our” band in Bath, Even though Stig appeared to be not so much a punk as some otherworldly vampiric hybrid of Nick Cave and Keith Richards he was always totally approachable and always willing to be hassled by me and my dumb mates. Ill health laid him low for a few years so to see him coming back to his best was just great. He’s a creative old bastard- one rehearsal with us, recorded the following week-instant magic…or as we are discussing Stig- Magick.
What next for the band? New material?
Well the Blood Moon Acid EP we did with Stig would have been out on 10 inch vinyl had Covid not shat on everybody’s plans, its out via some bandcamp internet caper, but the real version should appear once life starts to normalize. You can see Mike Smiths video for Blood Moon Acid on Bluurg TV’s youtube channel.A further new ep was just about to be recorded when the world shut down again- so that’s ready to go once the studio opens again. We used to be a live band that grudgingly accepted we had to record occasionally, now we’re a studio band that grudgingly accepts we have to play live occasionally.
If you could change the world, in a sentence?
Every human on the planet to smoke DMT once- everything else will take care of itself.
Words to your fans?
Love Is The Law