The Parkinsons

They're on a mission to bring back the rock & roll spirit to the Streets Of London. Hailing from Portugal and dubbed the Punk Rock So Solid Crew after live shows which have seen them swing from the rafters naked and urinate in glasses they are rebels with a cause. Still fuelled by the disappointment of coming to London during the tail end of Britpop and realizing that the London of '77' had been replaced by pissy indie bands like the Manics and Blur they set about creating the most life affirming music they could. We caught up with singer Al to revel in the madness that is the 24 hour Party of the Parkinsons

Q: Let's take it back to your roots in Portugal. You grew up in a very conservative catholic town called Coimbra. What was this time like in the wilderness?
A: Big Roman Catholic Church. More than 90% of the population go to the church every Sunday. But we all had very normal childhood's, but very boring though. It's the furthest country down in Europe and there's not a lot of interest in people going there and especially in a place so small there were never any bands. We never really had any access to see that many bands, unlike a lot of English people who have their own bands that you get to see everyday. We pretty much had to use our imagination and do things ourselves.

Q: So there isn't really a music scene as such in Portugal?
A: There's always been bands, but nothing you could really call scene. In our town there were about 50 or 60 friends that would always go out at night and there would always be 3 or 4 bands going. They would always involve the same people with side projects going on and stuff like that.

Q: After the various bands and side projects, it wasn't until The Tedio Boys split and joined you over in the UK that the Parkinsons finally settled as that one band. How did it happen?
A: Victor and Pedro had the Tedio Boys which they played together for 10 years. They had 3 records and had American coast to coast tours. They were doing quite well, but not in Portugal, and they just broke up. When they broke up I was already in England and they had nothing to do in Portugal so they came over and stayed in my flat.

Q: You had grown up in Portugal listening to all the old punk bands of '77'. When you eventually came over here, did it live up to what you expected?
A: Not really. In fact, when I came here just over three and a half years ago there wasn't much going on. There's always been dance music, hip hop and indie clubs, but they never really had any punk clubs or rock n roll clubs and I found that quiet disappointing. You had the occasional club where they'd play 3 or 4 punk tracks and then just play indie music and shite like the Manic Street Preachers and Blur.

What's happening now wasn't happening at the time at all. It was the tail end of Britpop, but occasionally you would get a band coming over from America or the old classic bands.

Q: When you did those first few gigs was it hard to be accepted at the time?
A: When the Parkinsons actually did there first couple of gigs I think it was a shock to a lot of people. People were saying we haven't seen a band like these for 50 years now, and to be honest I'm not really surprised with that. With the amount of crap you have now where no one is really pushing things forward in the way of playing live gigs. Everything's are very safe and clean, lets look pretty and look good on stage.

In Manchester you always had the Factory scene, London had punk rock and ska. And people come to the shows with the attitude of impress me now. It's that sort of attitude that really p**ses us off. It's not like we want to impress you, it's that we want to f**king rock you. I think there's a lot of apathy with people who go to see shows. We've always had this attitude, even in Portugal, and it set us apart. Because we never had the same chances as everyone here, we did things our own way and this is the way we've always been doing things - being as confrontation as we can!!!

Q: From day one people have had difficulty getting a grip on you. First the press dreamt up The Scene with No Name and now the latest one is "The Punk Rock So Solid Crew". It's almost like the Parkinsons are so original that they're not even being compared to a guitar group anymore.  Are you having that one?
A: I actually thought that was great. In the same way that So Solid Crew got compared to the Sex Pistols because of their cancelled tour...and the way we get compared to So Solid Crew because of our energy - I find it great!!!

In a way it's standing us apart from all those crappy bands you call rock now. I definitely want the band to be talked about as the Parkinsons, not as part of this new rock and roll scene. The Parkinsons might be new in England because we've only been playing here for 2 years, but as individuals we've been going on for a lot longer. And I'm sure a lot of the bands we had in the past would surprise a lot of people - it would be a big kick in the ass to a lot of bands that are going around now.

Q: The live shows are full on rock & roll energy, 100% every night. How do you survive a 20 date tour?
A: It is f**ked up. It does get to the point where you feel really depressed because you don't know whether you're going to be up for it again the next day. The thing is once you get on stage you just don't care, push the limits all the time and do it all the time.

The tours before have been basically playing and getting smashed. Every time you play a show you do tend to get wankered or whatever. This is our first headline tour which makes things a little worse because you're playing later, which means you get on stage a bit more f**ked up than usual. And then you come off stage and feel like another f**king drink!!!

Q: We haven't seen you before. So can we expect full on debauchery when you head up to Manchester?
A: We got famous for debauchery because we got our kits off several times and urinated in glasses on stage. But it's all about the music and the sheer energy of the band - not were going to get naked for you or I'm going to show you my dick!!! People come to the show have to be open minded and in the mood for fun because were definitely going to have fun on this tour.

Q: Finally, we have to ask have you ever been banned for anywhere for the live shows?
A: No, well actually we've been chucked out of places several times. We've been taken off stage by security and beaten up. But we've never banned before. Were always told before the gigs to watch the equipment or to not climb there or we cut the power off. We do wrong things and we do good things and we just keep going on!!!

"The Streets Of London" is out now on Fierce Panda
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