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Prefects - Interview

  by Adam Wood

published: 23 / 5 / 2006

Prefects - Interview


One of the forgotten bands of the 70's punk era, the Prefects have recently seen their career got through a revival with the release of two posthumumous records. Adam Wood chats to Rob Lloyd, who is now with the Nightingales, about his one-time band

Self proclaimed “lazy, daydreaming arse,” Rob Lloyd is a forgotten visionary of the punk era. His band the Prefects hardly did anything at all. They recorded two John Peel sessions during their lifetime and have had two posthumous albums, 'The Prefects are Amateur Wankers' (Acute Records, 2004) and 'Live 1978 : The Co-op Suite Birmingham' (Caroline True, 2006) released during the last two yeara. One single double A-side called 'Going Through the Motions/Things in General' came out in 1980, again after the Prefects had broken up. They were an angry, discordant live band who could only really play very badly but could do that very, very well. Revived by punk historian Jon Savage, the Prefects have slowly garnered a certain cult status especially considering the enviable accolade of being the first punk group in Birmingham, only reinforced with the arrival of the down right scuzzy, ‘The Prefects are Amateur Wankers.’ Now with Prefects’ guitarist Alan Apperley, Rob Lloyd fronts the rather exciting Nightingales and I caught up with him before he embarks on another mammoth tour. PB : You joined the Prefects apparently because you were inspired by the Sex Pistols like a lot of young men in the late ‘70s. What was it about them that was so inspiring? RL : Briefly, myself and a couple of school friends were trying to get a group going doing a kind of Hawkwind, Stooges, Krautrock sort of noise, which was simple riffs and beats and shouting. When the Pistols, and before them the Ramones, came out the straightforward gear they were doing was pretty much what we liked already but the image and attitude was light years of where we were at. Obviously, quite a few people felt the same way and a couple of us soon teamed up with another pair of youths and formed the Prefects. The Pistols inspired our haircuts, sneers and other copycat stuff, as we were really young and stupid, but the main thing was the instillation of the thought that we didn't need to fanny around any more. We could just get out there and, er, make our mark. PB : Did Johnny Rotten’s onstage cartoon anarchy have an impact on the sardonic stage presence of the Prefects? RL : We - not just the Prefects but all the other copycat groups - thought his antics and attitude were super cool, mega new, et cetera. The whole Pistols thing, at that time, seemed fab and all we wanted to do, at first, was emulate their thing, as young naive boys forming bands tend to want to do. PB : Was there perhaps a certain creative energy abound at the time of the rise of punk ? Was it simply an explosion of new talent? A disillusioned group of the young and unemployed ? RL : I don't know really. I can only speak for myself. I wanted to be in a group originally because girls seemed to like pop singers but, unfortunately, I was not cut out to be David Cassidy, or even Marc Bolan. I wanted to come from New York or Cologne or some place, make a racket, take drugs and so on. The Sex Pistols just made me think being British was good enough and that being cool was a bit lame. Y'know, fuck the rock stars and get on with it. The learn three chords and start a band thing was a great concept but the majority of people who did it turned out to be untalented, pop stars in waiting or just piss poor. The energy was exciting, the creativity, often times, less so, and in general it seemed to me the young working class thing was a bit of a facade. Most people you would meet were posh arty poseurs, speeded up pub rock bands, or Bowie fans, or whatever. PB : What were you up to before the band formed? RL : I had recently left school and was working in a bakery. I was into music and girls but was a bit of a lazy, daydreaming arse. PB : What are the reasons behind the long time getting a full length album together? Did you actively avoid the studio or the other way around? RL : I always say I did not want to make a record and that might be true. 'Twas a long time ago, but we were never approached about making one anyway. We had no business contacts, no wealthy parents or owt, so that was that. Plus I could hear with my own ears that the majority of records were shit. The bulk of the groups that were decent live either failed to cut it on record or never made one. We went in to a studio twice, both times for the John Peel show. It was good enough, by me, to get played on the radio; I did not need to have a piece of plastic with the songs on. I would not have played it nor expected anyone else to. Of course this attitude certainly hindered how popular we were likely to be and how many gigs we could get, etc, so in the end it helped kill off the band, but there you go. It was weird and surprising when Acute Records wanted to release an album so long after we'd jacked the group in but, having made records with my group the Nightingales and become a tad more au fait with the games you have to been involved in with to avoid perishing, I thought "Ah fuck it, it won't harm anybody". PB : TV Smith from the Adverts told me that he hated the likes of Franz Ferdinand for effectively waltzing into million pound record deals when he worked to release something that is meaningful and has been constantly gigging to keep up a fan base. Do you feel that way about new bands and the remarkable amounts of cash and zeitgeist that surround the next big British band? RL : I could not give a monkey's. I am not in competition with other groups. Young NME come Smash Hits bands are not designed for me and neither I for they. Fuck 'em all and Mister Smith get over it. Pop records and fan bases and so on and so forth... Jesus. I make records and do gigs and would like to be vaguely successful for my own reasons only. PB : Was the Co-op Suite gig a seminal one for you? What was the general gigging experience for the Prefects? RL : I cannot even remember doing that particular gig. It was a real turn up for the books when the recording came to light. It is strange to hear the group being appreciated because I think that would have been unusual for us. The gigging experience in general is blurry but i know we were young, daft and adventurous so inevitably we must have had heaps of fun. PB : I read that you once got paid four cans of beer for a show. How much money do you reckon you’ve made from the Prefects and what is the best pay check you got? RL : Good golly Miss Black, I would not have a clue. I do not remember ever being paid in the Prefects nor ever needing to be. I've told you already - we were stupid. PB : The godfather of Punk history Jon Savage has jumped onto to your band and helped force a release. Did you know him from the early days and has he always been so keen?! RL : I never really knew Mister Savage but he was always very keen on the Prefects and is the main, maybe sole, punk historian who never wrote the group out of the story. When I was in the group I think I met him once and probably gave him short shrift, as that was pretty much my way. I have met him once quite recently and he has sent me a few Kinks and Joe Meek records and books and he seems a very nice fellow. PB : Obviously Jon Savage is a top writer and all round hero of the resurrection. What was it like to have him revive the Prefects legacy? RL : I guess I like the fact that he has always championed the group when given the opening to do so. While I do not get het up about such stuff it does piss you off a bit to be totally forgotten like you never existed. In truth though I am much more interested in the Nightingales than some fucking constant nostalgia, so... well, there you go. PB : What happened after the Prefects until now?! RL : How much time you got? Briefly, I started the Nightingales. We made a few records and played gigs and stuff. After a while and for various reasons that group packed it up, but a few years back reactivated and is currently touring and recording new material once more. In fact, I am very pleased and excited again about our writing and performing, even though, because of the not being very popular thing, sometimes it feels like rough going. It's a longish old story but a fuller breakdown of all this activity can be found at www.thenightingales.org Of course, I have done much else outside of being in the Nightingales but it's all a bit boring or private. PB : Are there any plans for a reunion type tour or new material or is that the sort of thing you want to avoid? RL : There is a new Nightingales album due for release on September 25. There will be tours of Europe, UK and USA over the next few months. There will never be another Prefects record, reunion, et cetera. PB : Is there anything else you want to addor bring up? RL : Hopefully some of your readers will check out the Nightingales web site or www.myspace.com/nightingalesmusic. This is the work I am interested in. For sure try the Acute Records Prefects CD, or even the weird live one but I personally would suggest that the 'gales music is more interesting for all but those on a history trip. PB : Thank you.

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Prefects - Interview

Prefects - Interview

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Going Through the Motions (2020)
Insightful retrospective of studio recordings and live performances from short-lived 70's Birmingham punk band the Prefects
Live 1978 The Co-Op Suite Birmingham (2006)
Amateur Wankers (2005)

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