Andy and I got in touch in the mid 80s, probably about 1986 or 1987. I think I got his address from Zan Hoffman who already had a large collection of European and British contacts. A very genial and creative individual with determined ideas and outlook, his tapes were scathing rock attacks on many establishment positions. His riff oriented rock songs were just what I needed at the time. Guitar heavy and filled with hooks and distinctive vocalisms.
I also found out early on about his tireless work as a compilation producer putting out his massive International Sound Commincation series of tapes with dozens and dozens of international artists.
He disappeared for awhile during the 90s and early 00’s but returned with a bang with his own music projects and some collaboration groups such as Kay’s Heaven ( with yours truly, Andy Savage and others).
His classic “Raiders Of The Stolen Hearts” ( above)was released in 1987 and was probably one of the first cassettes I received by him.
Above, the wrap around card stock cover for “Forward Into The Abyss”, one of my personal favorites from about 1988 or 1989. he even has a song about my radio show on this tape.
To me, ISC 15 is one of the greatest compilations ever produced in the cassette scene. Unbelievably eclectic and expansive, this two tape set with wrap around cover must have been extremely time consuming to produce by Andy, one by one. I harvested many a contact from this volume alone and this tape still stands up to repeated plays and is interesting and fresh even today.
The Peace And Freedom Band was the British project of writer, poet and publisher Paul Rance. This musical project also included Andy Bruce, Andy Savage and Andy Xport. The tapes above and below were from 1988. More lo fi and frenetic that Xport’s solo tapes, they had a special charm and flavor of their own.
When did you hear about the tape scene? Was it in a publication?
I never really heard about the tape scene, we always had mono tape recorders as children, and i use to record music off the radio, it’s when i made the transition from spectator to participant that cassette’s became a fundamental part of my creative ideas, a notebook to place my rather inept poems and songs, i had a cheap guitar and to this day i never had a lesson, i am not proud of this because it has probably hampered my progression through the music world, if i had been more adept at the theory of music i may have had a better reception and been able to put my intense feelings across to people more adeptly, I wrote a few songs that were more inward looking one of which was “Bloody Mad” which made it’s way onto the first A.P.F Brigade tape “Live Brigade” a couple of years later.
Were you already making your own songs and recording your music?
Yes me and Jon Hindle and another guy were practising as a band after the Sex Pistols came on the scene in 1977, i had just started work at 16 in 1977 and it had suddenly dawned on me that this was what i had to do every day to earn a living, i was not impressed! all the time at school i felt i was cheated and was fulfilling a wasted dream of other people, this was not my dream i did not want to be a fucking Engineer or Teacher or Policeman or other mundane shit, i wanted to be an Astronaut (no serious don’t laugh!) , and i thought there must be something other than this drudgery that man puts upon himself?, we had about 8 songs that we played but had no drummer, me and Jon Hindle were the more serious two and the other guy (can’t remember his name!) had all the cool equipment with a les paul (his dads i think) who stood posing in front of the garage mirror trying to look like Steve Jones most of the time, It was not until the guitar guy left that we made our first demo tape.
When did you start using the name, Andy Xport? And why?
Ha ha! this is sad, well a bit anyway! , me and Jon’s favourite game at work was naming the band or giving ourselves a Punk name, an older guy (at work) had already Named Jon “Lurch” after the Adams family character but me i was lumbered with “thing”, but it was not until we went to see the Clash at Leicester Granby halls in 1978 that i got the name eXport, it so happened that me and Jon bought a load of Carlsberg Export Lager special Brew which was at the time 8% proof per can. anyway i managed to drink about eight cans in a hour journey on a slow 40 mile train journey, by the time we reached our destination i was well drunk, we stopped off at a Wimpey Burger bar (I was not Veggie until 1980!) where i tried to grope the waitress, a person on another table said the Police had been called (yes it’s sad but we was just having fun!), We promptly legged it with the Police coming down the street, later on after the gig there was heavy snow and rain and all trains were cancelled, so me and Jon decided to hitch a lift home down the highway, but because of our dress and the fact we looked fucked!. we never got a lift until a Police car came up and we were picked up, they knew we were the punks from before and said we could spend the night in Police cells or they would take us to the train station where we would be locked inside the platform all night until the trains were running when the lines were clear again the next day, We chose the train station and i spent the rest of the night with my head down the loo, and so ended up with the name export later to become Xport, much to my mates merriment.
I’ve always assumed your music was influenced primarily by British punk, such as Crass, but did your influences also include American ( or other non British) music or non rock material?
Yes and no, my first music i ever loved was Pink Floyd, and it was always second hand, because i was from a poor family and it was only through a school friend who had daddys money and was able to buy a HI-FI, and i use to go round and listen to Barclay James Harvest and and Floyd and also stuff by the beach boys, procol harum, jefferson starship, later on after punk explosion in the eighties i was influenced by Neil Young but also bands like DKs and Husker Du, my main love was always the Ramones because i just loved the simplicity of the songs and i still play them today, i also loved Tom Waits and Tom Petty, because they are just people who love making songs and do it because its a passion, i love passionate musicians of all types of music, their love comes over in what they write and play
Your music is known for confronting social and political issues. The name “Man’s Hate” sets the tone for what you do. Was anger a large motivating factor in your lyrics and approach? Is it still?
I have to say i would love to be rid of my anger and hate and just to write songs and music about life in general, but my creativity seems to be coupled or triggered by man’s intolerance to other beings and his fellow man, its often the case with me that the song just spills out of me, i pick up the guitar and the song from within me is already at my finger tips and pouring forth from my soul with such venom i sometimes look back at myself and wonder who the fuck i am really, its like i am possessed by another person, i really have to try hard to do other music like we did together on Kay’s Heaven, which i really enjoyed doing.
Have you been a political activist?
Yes, i was a staunch supporter of most animal rights movements in the eighties, i protested against many a wrong on marches against laboratory testing on animals, Racism, Banning the bomb CND, anti capitalism etc, i really did like the excitement of a protest and a ruck!, i spent many a cold morning in town handing out leaflets for the BUAV often getting abuse and threats of violence ;0), much to my surprise a few people I have contact with today through myspace and face-book we’re influenced enough to also take Direct Action and go on protest rallies, so i like to think my songs did save animals lives!
How did you spread the word initially about your early tapes? Did you ever take an ad out in a magazine?
We (APF Brigade) did send a tape for review in Sounds and NME, and we got a mention in their then cassette feature (which did not last long), but on the whole we did pretty much the same as i did later, send out small flyers in the mail, and do interviews for small fanzines across the globe.
Who were some of your earliest tape trading partners? And when and who did you start trading with outside of Europe/Britain?
You mean USA?, well i had good contact with Zan Hoffman and he was sending me tapes all the time, we even use to do cassette letters where we would talk about stuff we were doing and beer, Zan was a collector of everything to with beer, bottle caps etc, katharsis i had a good empathy with and also use to trade tapes and do tape letters with, they even sent me mics at one point and Daniel did a reading (tarot type stuff) which was so me i hid the pages in the bottom of a clothes draw so no one could see me!, i seem to remember you sent me a tape with collaboration stuff on it which i never got round to doing!, i also had contact with the usual suspects, cause and effect, Sound of pig, etc
What gave you the idea for your ISC ( International Sound Communique) compilations? How many did you do and what made you stop?
Sandy Nys of 3rio tapes was doing a series called international sound communiqué but said he was not doing any more because it was too much work (which i later found out it was!), so i said to him could i carry the idea on, and so my version was born, i just called it communication in the English spelling, i think Sandy did 5-7 releases, all were very good but mainly euro synth and experimental music, mine were more eclectic in their approach, i did 15 in all 1-8 we’re C60 and 9-14 we’re C90 and issue 15 was 2 X C90, so i went out with a bang, i stopped cause i just could not keep up with all the mailing and was spending 4-5 hours a night writing letters, doing post and duplicating tapes, i just thought enough s enough!
These compilations are unbelievable collections of many, many genres. Did you have any guidelines for accepting peoples work? And how did you establish your vast international contact base? Did you ever reject anything?
Absolutely nothing was rejected and it was first come first served, the only thing i did do was arrange the songs so that each track was different to the last, so pop stuff may come next to harsh industrial sounds, so that the listener would not have to endure something they did not like for to long, also I decided that 5 mins was the optimum or maximum time for a track, give or take, so long pieces could be used in excerpts, contact base was made with small A7 ish sized flyers saying about the new release and inviting people to participate on the next release, that was it, and within a couple of weeks i had enough submissions to fill a C60.
You released many solo tapes. Were they all solo or did you ever employ any additional musicians?
Only once did i play with a drummer, a friend of Zan Hoffman called Fenner Castner heard my first solo tape and suggested he send me some drum tracks for me to work with, i was surprised at the results, and on my second tape “love me” i used all of Fenners drum tracks, also a couple of tracks on “raiders of the stolen hearts” my third tape album.
Did you ever play live as Man’s Hate?
No never, apart from a few friends now and again, i am not much of an extrovert and the thought of playing in front of ,lots ( well a few!) of people never really appealed to me, if i was part of a band then I would probably give it a whirl, but i lost most of my rock star aspirations in the late seventies, when I was a member of the APF Brigade we we’re booked to play a few gigs but Jon had cancer and was undergoing chemo at the time, and in them days chemo was a very harsh treatment, and that went on for a few years, so all in all i was never meant to play live, just put out tapes, and i was content with that.
I believe you did collaborate with some others. Can you tell us about some of that?
Yes i collabed with Zan Hoffman on a few experimental pieces under the name Septic Synthia, i did a few synth pieces and Zan added to them and put out a tape or two (not sure what he did in truth), there are some cover scans on myspace pics, i also did about seven tracks with Lord Litter from Germany, but these were never released officially, bit you can download a couple of tracks from my blog http://andyxport.wordpress.com/
Did you record with The Peace And Freedom Band with Paul Rance? Did you ever meet him and record music live?
Yes i met Paul Rance on a few occasions, he lived about 35 miles away in the sticks, i worked on a few of his cool lyrics and we did three songs together, one of which “nature” i was particularly proud of, he even did some backing vocal on them, i was also an honorary member of the P+F band, and featured on a few of their songs (i think!) threw cut ups and the like, he was a good guy and was passionate about his poetry and his magazine, which had a good circulation at the time, with Andrew Bruce and Andrew Savage (Angelo Gravity).
Here’s some names from the underground, can you tell us your relationship with some of them?Lord Litter:
good pen pal and fellow taper, i really liked Litters tapes and he was a fairly prolific song writer at the time, i know later he joined up with Steve of BBP tapes to start a euro arm of his disto label.
Zan Hoffmasn always amazed me with the amount of music/noise he produced, 200 full cassette releases in one year has to be a world record?, we always had a lot of mail from each other.Steve Andrews:
not much at the time, only through Paul Rance and the P+F band, had more contact with him lately through his myspace and work we did together as Kay’s Heaven.
Stephen Parsons ( BBP tapes):
Steve put out a few of my solo tapes and also some older APF Brigade tapes, he was fairly cheap so i was happy to have my tapes distributed by him.
What year did you switch from making tapes to CDRs? Did you also make a switch to new recording equipment, like a computer based system?
I had a very long lay off from about 1990 to 2003 when the Iraq war started it seemed to kick in my old angst, and i started to pick up the guitar again, i was angry at our government for ignoring the majority of the populations protests and taking us into another stupid war, i started to look at recording on the computer because it gave you much more than my old four track ever could, now with a decent PC i have got 64 track studio at my disposal for a lot less money than i paid for my four track back in the eighties, and most of my tracks now use about 25 tracks on average!, and i can assign one sound to each track right down to separate tracks for each drum etc., so it gives me more flexibility and the sound quality is so much better without any hiss, thumbs up for no hiss!
What still excites you about making your own music? What do you learn about yourself by doing it?
I love seeing how a song works out when i record it, when i strum the song and get the basic idea, the finished result always seems a million miles from the acoustic version i worked on for weeks, i learned long ago that to create something from nothing is kind of special, and it uplifts your humanity, a participant and not a spectator, i like to be active and creative and have been most of my adult life, I like to think that maybe i made a small difference in a positive way to other peoples lives.
Do you have any musical goals now?
Not really, a million downloads would be nice, but then i would hate all the attention it may bring, I would like to get better at making more you tube songs, because its a bit of a step for me to make videos of myself doing my music, i like you tube cause its got the facility to be a creative tool other than just a laugh at some poor fool falling off his skateboard!, and i would like to collaborate more with other musicians and also do this with video.Is there any legacy to Cassette Culture?
Yes we see it now in that people all over the world are making there own music, myspace although a capitalist thing was a great tool for people like me to reach people and i am grateful for that, people can still exchange music for free, but now we can do it much faster, within minutes of finishing a song I can upload it and by the next hour someone’s given me some feedback on it, i love that! Cassette culture showed that people can be creative and exchange music for little or no cost and now the internet expands that a million times.
Why were there so few women involved in the early days of Cassette Culture?Pass!, it may just be down to the fact that that is what men do, we concentrate on one thing (obsessively) and get something done where as women multi task!,there was more women in the uk anarcho punk scene with small bands like Hagar the womb, but mostly it was male dominated. Give us your take on how the internet has changed your approach…or has it?
Yes as i said above the internet is instantaneous, i can get my songs out to the public in minutes, especially as i do it all for non profit, i mean i have had offers from A+R companies, one in USA even offered to sort me out a place and gigs and stuff, but it was all about money and the rock star stuff, it would not be the same for me and would make my songs meaningless and without sincerity, and i don’t want that, but the internet gives me the possibility of a huge audience, but its a very vibrant place and its difficult to keep peoples attention for long, its not enough to just do a song any more you have to have video footage, and out-take footage of the cock ups etc., it will be interesting to see where its all going in future years. i would say that i can now write a song about something that i felt strongly about, but i can now also reference the subject, see video and hear audio all at my fingertips, so when blair says the war documents were not sexed up i can go back and look at the video footage and get my angle on a song and say what i want instantly, one of my fave sites is http://www.rhymezone.com/ because when i am struggling with the lyrics of a song i can type a word in and get loads of rhyming words, which often gives me the idea for the next line in my verse, i think i may have used that site for every song i have done since 2006!
What’s the best URL to learn more about you and hear your music?
I am on: