How UK Street Punk Refugees The Bastards Found Their Calling in LA
Not to be confused with the band led by Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, The Bastards are an old school English punk group formed in Yorkshire in 1983, when the band was still teenagers. Throughout the band’s formative years, The Bastards became part of the burgeoning UK punk community. But by the late '80s/early '90s the band felt that the punk scene was being overlooked and dominated by dance and pop music. So in 1990, The Bastards packed their bags and left their home country for Los Angeles, and never looked back.
With over three decades under their belt, The Bastards is composed of AL Simpson on guitar, Daz Simpson on bass and vocals and Tyler Hayden on drums. The bastards might be one of the most overlooked and underrated punk bands to emerge from a scene that included artists like The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks, all of whom the band cites as early influences.
Their first album in over 12 years, Straight Out of Yorkshire, is finally due out this year. Recently, guitarist AL Simpson took time to speak with the Weekly about the band’s recent string of shows, their early influences, and how it feels back to be on the road with new music after so long.
OC Weekly(Alex Distefano):Who are some of the band’s formative influences?
AL Simpson:Our influences back when we started in the early 80s as teenagers in high school were The Sex Pistols, the Clash. Just those early punk bands and UK late 70s punk bands that were coming up, and of course The Ramones who we were really into as well. We were very much into British rock music before that when we were younger, and we loved the Beatles.
How did you listen to music? What formats did you play music on back in those days in England?
We used to do this weird thing every Saturday morning. We’d get up and after breakfast, we’d go to our local record store to discover new music, and spend all of our money on buying vinyl records. We’d go in and search through record bins and find stuff we liked, all kinds of rock bands and of course the punk bands we eventually discovered. It was great and it’s a lost art and form of music to listen to but we will always have a place in our heart for vinyl records.
What it was like being from a place like Yorkshire?
Well, Yorkshire was a very working class part of the country, the best way to relate it to Americans is Pittsburgh, when it was a steal mill coal mining town ages ago. Nothing but working class people, but lots of hopelessness, and yes still some poverty as well. Margaret Thatcher was in power at the time and it was a miserable place to live with no prospects or real hope for a better future. Music was kind of our way out of that life so we escaped through listening to and then later playing music.
When and how did you learn to play guitar?
I learned to play guitar at around 11 or 12, but we always had it in the house my dad played a bit as well. My first band was around when I was 12 or 13 and it was a Beatles cover band. We just had fun and tried to play our favorite tunes by them and of course the Rolling Stones. But I will say that’s where we learned how to write songs and got our songwriting skills by playing Beatles songs.
Why did you decide to relocated to LA?
The problem in the UK in the late '80s was that it was hard for rock bands and punk bands to succeed and break through. It was rough as a punk band, the climate was just not in our favor, even though just a few years earlier the punk scene was exploding. Dance music and pop music were taking over. We came to LA in 1990, and never came back. We loved being part of the Hollywood scene in the mid to late '90s it was a fun time for punk. In a way we kind of grew up in Hollywood. In the mid '90s we were headlining a lot of shows on the strip at all the clubs. Hollywood and LA has become our home now. I met my wife here and my son was born at Cedars Sinai. Lots of our fans now have kids who are also getting into punk rock. It’s a beautiful thing.
How have crowd responses been at your most recent shows?
It has been phenomenal so far. We had such a blast opening for Unwritten Law the other weekend in the IE. The crowds at our shows have been amazing and the energy has been off the charts, and we absolutely feed off of it. Obviously we aren’t in our 20s anymore so we aren’t running wild, jumping around all over the stage but the energy is still there, and we have a great time playing old and new songs for our fans. We’ve been gone for 12 years and it’s like we only took a few months off. The crowd responses so far have been amazing. At some shows people want encores, people didn’t want us to leave the stage. We are so excited about this show at the Whisky, we’re looking forward to getting back on that stage, we can’t believe 22 years have passed! But, as for the future, our plans are to just keep touring, to promote our new album, and play as many shows as we can in between our day jobs.
The Bastards perform at the Whiskey a Go Go on Aug. 20. Doors open at 7 p.m., the Bastards play at 10 p.m. $10, All ages. For full details, click here.
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