An interview from Common Knowledge #1
England’s Desperate Bicycles have refused all interviews and reissues in the years since they broke up. As a result, the band has been subject to hagiography. They confronted the possibilities opened up by punk rock and grabbed the reins, and that is why they are important. They were not the first band to self-release a record. Indeed, they took great inspiration from The Buzzcocks first release, “Spiral Scratch.” The punk moment was when energy, indignation, and ebullient free-form creativity superseded traditional notions of talent and skill, and the Desperate Bicycles were the first band to explicitly unify those creative particularities with the possibilities of do-it-yourself record production. At once, the ease of self-releasing a record and the youthful creativity associated with the punk explosion were in harmony, even if the musicians weren’t. No longer was self-releasing a record merely a means or one step on the long trudge to fame. Now, it was the end. It meant shirking the restrictions of commercial ambition and playing music for its own sake, or for some greater social cause, even if that cause were to convince others to release their own music.
Today, DIY has been codified even as it remains the subject of deep debate. The all-encompassing character of the capitalist totality has rendered questionable DIY’s hopes of revolution or even alterity. Thus, debate about degrees of “DIY”-ness or about the rules of DIY can seem academic. Shit-Fi proudly presents this interview from our dusty archives with the originators of the UK DIY movement (even though they never labeled it or themselves as such) in order to show that there were debates about DIY even before it was codified. As inspirational as the Desperate Bicycles were, and as clear as their statements on the records appear to be, this interview shows that they were experimenting, exploring, feeling their way through history even as they made it. The band did not begin with questions answered, with dogma decided. This interview reveals their humility and perhaps fails to capture the excitement of their records (no surprise).
This interview appeared in Common Knowledge #1 in late 1979 or early 1980; the zine was produced by Nag, Bendle, and Igor, members of The Door And The Window and Take-It.
The Desperate Bicycles Complete Anthology:
Check out another interview with Desperate Bicycles.