Legendary punk pioneers the Buzzcocks have recently released a new album, Flat-Pack Philosophy, to eager fan response. In celebration of their new record, the Mancunians have hit the road. Catch the Buzzcocks at Amplifier Bar this Sunday, September 17. MIKE WAFER speaks with guitarist, Steve Diggle.
They say getting old is a matter of perception. ‘You’re only as young as you feel,’ they say. Who’s this ‘they’? Well, Steve Diggle for one.
I can still go as hard I as used to,” he says proudly, with a chuckle that follows most of what he says. “I still love the cocaine and the girls (laughs). In fact I think I might have gotten a bit more able as I’ve gotten older. There’s a lot of younger fellas who can’t keep up with us. That’s what 30 years of practise will do to ya,” he says, cackling.
Extrapolating on his love of the ’caine and tottie, Diggle does, however, skew the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ slant to be somewhat warning.
“I’ve tried it all, mate; heroin, acid, cocaine… you name it. A lot of it’s all just shit. Not good. I think I’ve always been into the drugs that no one else was into at the time (laughs). If no one around was doing acid, that’s what I would have been doing. If no one around was doing ecstasy, that’s what I would have been doing. I think I just like the stuff that no one else is into at the time. I’m a bit Renaissance like that (laughs).”
Full of beans and amazingly sharp in his use of sarcasm, Steve Diggle comes across as the kind of guy you’d just love to hang out with. He talks about his career – and the amazing people he’s met along the way – with the nonchalance of someone telling you what he had for breakfast, and even though he has every right to be, he isn’t cocky in the slightest. No matter how big the name, it’s never a case of name-dropping.
“We went and caught up with Elton John in Vegas,” he says, impressed to no end. “It was great, and totally surreal. Elton John’s a big Buzzcocks fan, and he found out we were in town at the same time and he invited us over to his show. Yeah… (pauses) Elton John!” excites Diggle like a wish-fulfilled fan.
Not all of Steve Diggle’s shared anecdotes are happy, though he talks with the same level of excitement and respect when relaying his experiences with fallen Joy Division singer Ian Curtis that he does of friends still living and prospering. One gets the distinct impression that down-to-earth Diggle loves life, and has lived one worth cherishing.
Having been a distinct influence on the UK, and world, music since the mid-’70s though, it’s easy to see how the man has met just about everyone. It’s Diggle’s approachability that has led him to become friends with most of them though… and he’s still at it.
“It’s great to see the younger bands supporting the Buzzcocks with such enthusiasm,” he begins, “and to see kids excited to play with us is a great thrill. You know, half of these lads weren’t even born when the Buzzcocks first started, and were touring with the Pistols, yet they’re big fans.
“I think that’s what I love the most; the fact that the music is still relevant. We were never about the music industry and all that hyped-up shit that was around at the time. It was honest, and that honesty is still there. I think people relate to the Buzzcocks because they can see themselves in us. We’re not these huge American rock stars… we’re a bunch of lads who weren’t into that shit. We were definitely into the rock ‘n’ roll thing… you know, the girls and booze (laughs) but we weren’t into being part of the establishment. We still aren’t. But we’re still into the rock ‘n’ roll thing,” he adds, laughing.
Flat-Pack Philosophy is a natural extension of the Buzzcocks’ already lengthy career. Again opting for melody and simplicity over ‘hyped-up shit’, the band have produced a record worthy of their esteemed name. Along the lines of recording, writing, and maintaining a career, Diggle again talks nonchalantly. The band, he explains, know what they are doing, and love doing it as much as they did back when they were kids.
Occasionally bumping into old friends who didn’t go down the band path, Diggle sees his ongoing career in music as being the only path worth taking, stating that he couldn’t see himself being one of those ‘sad old bastards that doesn’t leave the house’. In this he proves, perhaps unwittingly, that he is one of those ‘forever young’ types that, even when he does eventually decide to retire, will be as youthful and rock ‘n’ roll as the day he started. God bless ’im… someone’s gotta do it.