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Vic Godard on Malcolm McLaren

The Subway Sect’s Vic Godard takes the Dazed Digital questionnaire about the late Malcolm McLaren

Formed in 1976, Subway Sect managed to enter the Olympus of punk rock thanks to that long gone Monday evening in September of the same year, when they played the first night of that two days stint passed to the history of music as the Punk Festival at The 100 Club in London. Their line up included Vic Godard on vocals, Paul Myers on bass and Rob Symmons on guitar. That night, right after Subway Sect, there were two other bands, The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Mark Perry’s fanzine Sniffin' Glue hailed Subway Sect as “real punks,” writing in a review of their first gig, “The Subway Sect hit the stage first and had all the intellectual wimpeys cringing in horror and yapping about how the band couldn’t play. It was their first gig and I loved ‘em. They chew gum on stage and look vacant. The four songs they did were great.”

Fame came and went:  Subway Sect’s first single, ‘Nobody’s Scared’, was released in March 1978, followed by ‘Ambition’. Unfortunately, by that time Bernie Rhodes, Subway Sect’s manager and also manager of The Clash, had already sacked the whole band, apart from Vic. Years have passed since then and the ultimate agitator of the punk scene, Malcolm McLaren, died last week. Vic Godard, takes a bit of time in between recordings of Subway Sect’s new album “We Come as Aliens”, to remember McLaren.

Dazed Digital: When did you first meet Malcolm McLaren?
Vic Godard: In 1971, he seemed friendly enough and not your average Kings Road shopkeeper.
DD: Is it true that he suggested you to form your own band?
Vic Godard: He thought we had a band because my companion had the name on a T-shirt.

DD: McLaren seemed to have grasped better than anybody else the connection between music and fashion: did the punk aesthetic impact on your band’s image?
Vic Godard: Yes, it was our aesthetic but we harked back to Sixties punk.

DD: For some people McLaren was a manager and record producer, for others a showman, an anarchic agent provocateur and a charlatan: who was for you McLaren?
Vic Godard: An original manipulator of kids and circumstances.

DD: Do you feel he was truly ahead of his time?
Vic Godard: No, he was a product of 1968.

DD: What fascinated you about him?
Vic Godard: He had a lot of nous and was very good at cutting through bullshit and getting things done without having control of the outcome. He had a look and attitude that was an antidote to hippiedom.

DD: In your opinion, what will he be remembered for?
Vic Godard: Possibly his hip-hop influence may be recognised more as the decades go by.

DD: What’s your favourite McLaren record?
Vic Godard: Buffalo Gals.

DD: Is there a quote by McLaren you particularly like?
Vic Godard: That one that says, fuck you, we don’t care if we have the cheapest instruments and can’t play, we are still up here saying things.

DD: Which Subway Sect track would you like to dedicate to McLaren?
Vic Godard: Nobody’s Scared.

Vic Godard will be playing with the Bitter Springs on 24th April at The Wilmington Arms, 69 Rosebery Avenue, London. The next Subway Sect gig is on 14th May at the Buffalo Bar 259 Upper Street, London.