Few bands have utilized bracing melodies, pointed lyrics, and single-minded propulsion as well as England's rightly canonized punk quartet Buzzcocks. Best known in the States for their seminal 1979 compilation Singles Going Steady, which features such anthems as “Ever Fallen In Love?” “What Do I Get?” and “Orgasm Addict,” the band released albums that were considerably more diverse and experimental. The first three–Another Music In A Different Kitchen, Love Bites (both from 1978) and '79's A Different Kind of Tension–have each just been reissued by Mute as a double-disc chock full of demos, live recordings, and BBC Radio 1 John Peel sessions. Despite numerous lineups and a long break in the '80s, Buzzcocks have toured tirelessly the past 20 years, with frontman Pete Shelley and guitarist/singer/songwriter Steve Diggle (both founding members) in fine form. Taking a break from work on his third solo album, Diggle discussed the reissues in advance of an appearance the Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival, which takes place Feb. 19-21 at the OC Fair & Event Center.
OC Weekly (Doug Wallen): You've been playing the entire first two albums on tour recently, but what's it like to revisit the original recordings and other material from that era?
Steve Diggle: You find out how great they were, really. Usually when you do a live set, you pick stuff off each album. But actually playing the first two albums back to back was weird. That really took you back in time. And it's not every day we get to listen to them or concentrate them that way. They were well-constructed albums, especially the first one. When you put that alongside the first Sex Pistols and Clash albums – they all came out about the same time – Buzzcocks' sound was very futuristic really. Very distinctive. Here we are 32 years later and it still sounds like it could have been made a few weeks ago.