“It’s my duty to educate and fight for a better world” – The Wonk Talk
Wonk Unit from the UK… this is one of those rare punkbands who don’t give us the yawns. They are DIY asf and their music is equally on point and suprising. The struggle is real for this band and so is the love. Let’s get hit by the sweetest bunch of maniacs in the game. Katharina Schmidt a.k.a. Kwittiseeds did an interview with singer Alex Brindle Johnson and the keyboard player Vez.
Question about your new video „Summertime“: In these “social distancing” days it’s kind of a substitute for hanging out in real clubs with sweaty sexy people on the dancefloor. What is the song about, and why is your keyboarder Vezzy playing the leading part while the rest of you is hardly seen in the video?
ALEX BRINDLE JOHNSON I wanted to make a song and video where if it wasn’t listed as Wonk, you’d never know it was by us. The music industry in the uk is so ageist, I wondered if I had a young woman as the focus of the video, would it attract more attention from mainstream radio and media. The answer is yes, the experiment worked. We’re currently getting played on mainstream radio shows. The song title and chorus lyric was original “Sniffer Time”, a “sniffer” being the kind of creep that only perves on female bands regardless of their musical ability. But let’s ask our keyboard player Vez herself…
VEZ We all love sex, that’s why sex sells. Sexiness is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Lines start to get a bit blurred in music though when we begin to consider “female fronted” as a genre, and the responses to the existence of women in the scene.
This is something we’d discussed a lot as a band, and it can sometimes seem like the very presence of a woman in a band causes people to sexualise, regardless of whether sexiness was an intention. ‘Sniffer Time’ was written as a tongue-in-cheek comment on this, as it is something probably all women in bands have experienced to some degree, and I’ve definitely felt it myself. It’s awesome and fun to own your sexuality and use it as power, as long as it’s on your terms. I like to think that’s what ‘Sniffer Time’ is really about. We had an urge to put out something sexy with a big beat, something that would simultaneously work at a club but also as a punk song. ‘Sniffer Time’ is supposed to be a sexy song whilst also being an observation of the way sexiness is harnessed in music.
Racism, sexism, a deathly virus, Brexit … how do you feel about it as an artist, musician, writer, skater – inspired by challenge or paralyzed?
ALEX BRINDLE JOHNSON Wonk Unit have a very diverse following, a lot broader than your average punk page. Our fan base transcends just the punk scene and reaches into much broader demographics. Because of this and because of the size of our platform I feel it’s my duty to educate and fight for a better world. I stay out of politics on a daily basis and politics are more subtle in our music but when huge politics decisions are at stake you’ll always find us at the forefront of the battle,using our reach to campaign for a better, farer and more equal society. The UK is fucked but we are a more politicised nation. There are a lot less people sitting on the fence or indifferent to politics. Unfortunately it does mean we are a very divided nation, 50 percent bigot, 50 enlightened. I think we will be lucky to escape large scale civil unrest in the next few years.
In Germany it is possible to get money from your community if you are working in a creative field and have financial loss due to the Covid-virus. How is it in England with cancelled gigs, do you get failure fees or support by the government or is it all your own risk so that artists in England have no earnings at the moment due to cancelled shows?
There is no government help for artists. There are no grants/support for promoters and grassroots music like you find on the mainland. That is why uk musicians are so blown away by the wonderful treatment we receive as artists when we get over there. The arts haven’t been supported for decades now. It may be why we produce such good bands because creating music is always such a financial sacrifice. The starving artist. It’s in our blood. You would never choose to make music for financial gain.