Having initially plied their trade in the early 80s, Kincorth punks Malfunction have recently got back together for a second bite of the cherry. In advance of their gig at the weekend with the U.K. Subs, they met up with FnS resident ageing punk New York Johnny to do a little reminiscing over the old days and some talking about the reformation and what the future holds for the band. Here’s what they had to say.
Hi guys. Thanks for talking to Flares N Seagulls. Who’s in the chair and what do you do?
Rod Gibbs – bass/vocals, Dek McDonald – guitar/vocals, Scotty Stuart – Drums
I believe you guys have your roots in the 1980’s punk scene? How did the band get together initially? Who or what provided the initial inspiration?
(Rod)Yes, we all went to school together in Kincorth late 70s/early 80s. Myself and Dek were in bands before which never really came to much. We used to go to punk gigs with Scotty and our original bass player Shaun Buchan and started talking about getting it together. We started rehearsing in 1981. As far as inspiration goes it would be all the great bands at that time – The Clash, Ruts, Theatre Of Hate, Zounds etc and there were loads of good local bands who we would watch like Anti-Social, and Hum who also came from Kincorth.
Tell us a bit about the early days of the band. Who was in it, where did you play, who with etc?
(Scotty) Back then Rod was on vocals with Shaun on bass, myself on drums and Dek on Guitar.
(Dek) We used to play the 62 Club regularly with local bands like Hum, Carnage, Third Testament and we also played at The Cobweb which was a great little venue next to the Prince Of Wales pub.
What was the Aberdeen punk scene like in those days?
(Dek)The punk scene then was awesome, loads of punks in the town and a great punk attitude going around the place. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t play – just get your hands on an instrument and give it a go! Lots of bands were forming all over the city and there was a chance to play at the 62 Club which had a great vibe. The Other Record Shop and One Up was where we bought our vinyl and Fridays it was St Kays (now the Lemon Tree) for Reggae Night. On Saturday night The Venue was the place with live bands every week.
Why did you break up?
(Rod) No one is really sure. I just remember it was getting hard to get everyone together at rehearsals at the same time and eventually we split
Did any of you stay active in music after that? What did you all do?
(Dek) I have always been in bands since we split. I went on to be in The Clan until around 1990 then various cover bands.
(Rod) I started playing guitar and played in a few bands but nothing gigwise. I got into house music and DJ’ing in clubs. I’m still involved in that scene as well.
(Scotty) I hadn’t played for a while until we got back together in 2007.
So tell us about the new Malfunction. Is it all the original members?
(Scotty) Yes, all original members. We are still trying to persuade Shaun to get involved again on bass with Rod moving on to rhythm guitar so next time you see us we might be back to a four piece again.
Whose idea was it to get back together and why now?
(Scotty) Me and Rod used to talk about it every so often when we got pissed on nights out and eventually I converted our only studio recording from the old days – a 4 track tape – onto CD and gave copies to all the guys.
(Rod) We got together (minus Shaun) at Captain Toms for a one-off jam and enjoyed blasting out the old punky stuff so much we have been together ever since.
Rod has assumed bass duties now as well as singing. Which do you prefer?
I much prefer having a guitar as well.
So is it songs from the original incarnation you’re playing now or all new stuff or a mix of the two?
(Scotty) It’s a mix of the two. We were playing 50/50 originals and covers but now we have loads of new stuff the covers will feature a lot less if any at all.
Do you still consider yourselves a punk band? Did you ever?
Yes, we all do for sure the attitude is still there.
Listening to your songs, I pick up wee hints of all sorts of stuff. From Crisis through Joy Division through to Killing Joke. Are they / what are your influences?
(Rod) Yes, we were def into those bands but for me The Clash were probably my biggest influence.
(Dek) The main influence was probably our limited ability on the instruments! Never trying to sound like other bands cause we couldn’t really!
Without giving away any trade secrets, how does the Malfunction songwriting process work? Who does what?
(Rod) I usually come up with a bassline and a basic vocal hook and we jam with it from there. Once the guys have added their parts it usually changes quite a bit so it’s definitely a team effort. Dek has started writing again on our new studio recording.
What do you find is the biggest difference for you as a band now compared to the eighties? What’s better, what’s worse?
(Scotty) Rehearsals are a lot easier nowadays for sure. Back then you had hassle of humping gear all over and it had to be packed away when you finished. With places like Musical Vision and Captain Toms it’s much easier – now you just turn up and it’s all there for you.
(Dek) The old joints are creaking now so we need to keep the Voltarol handy!
Has your attitude changed any in your time away? Do you approach things any differently?
(Rod) We are definitely not so serious. We have a real laugh about things now!
(Dek) Loving the music as much as ever though and the punk attitude is still there.
I understand you’ve been doing some recording recently. How’s that been going?
Recording went really well. We got 5 new songs down and had a blast doing it. Andy down at Musical Vision mixed it for us and we are pleased with the results.
Any plans to release the finished product?
Yes, in the next few weeks.
Which do you prefer, studio or live work?
Live is definitely best.
So you have a gig coming up shortly with the U.K. Subs. Are you fans?
Yes we have all been fans since way back when they used to play at the 62 so really looking forward to it.
Anything else in the pipeline?
Just working on new material and an album in the near future
And plans for the rest of 2010?
Hopefully more gigs.
Nearly there now. It’s time for the FnS interview staples…..what would be your five desert island discs?
Watching the Detectives – Elvis Costello
Something That I Said – Ruts
Original Sin – Theatre Of Hate
Autonomy – Buzzcocks
Police And Thieves – The Clash
And finally, your favourite flavour of crisps?
Scotty – Barbecue, Rod – T-Bone Steak, Dek – Cheese & Onion.
Thanks again guys. I look forward to hearing the new stuff at the weekend.
Malfunction support the U.K. Subs at Drummonds this Saturday, 10th July, along with Bin Laden’s Daughter. Doors @ 8pm, £9 entry.