"C86 was introduced to the world on 3 May 1986 when the 'NME' revealed that the next tape to be released in its highly-popular and long-running cassette series would be a compilation of indie bands."

"Fittingly, 22 acts would feature on the tape whose catalogue number was NME 022, and in a full-page teaser announcement – ‘Cool in the Spool’ – the names of some of them were revealed: The Bodines, the Soup Dragons, Shop Assistants, Half Man Half Biscuit, We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It and Stump. Almost all the songs on the tape would be 'exclusive to the 'NME', with three of the featured bands being thrust before public ears for the first time.' The 'NME' hoped it would become 'one of the compilations of the year.' Nearly thirty years later, it is still with us."

So, begins the extensive liner notes to the 'C86' box set, a new three CD collection that collects together all the songs on the original tape plus tracks from another fifty bands from the era.

It takes us back to a time of fanzines and before we knew what an MP3 is. Many of the bands featured here used the humble cassette to circumvent the need for vinyl to share their music. They recorded, copied and distributed their music direct to their audience. Punk may have burnt out rather than faded away, but the ethos of doing it yourself continued to burn bright.

As the thirtieth birthday of 'C86' approaches, debate still continues, questioning what punk was meant to stand for versus what it did stand for, Pennyblack caught up with Victoria Perks aka Vix, vocalist and violinist with We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Going To Use It or Fuzzbox as they soon became. We wanted to find out about her memories of the punk pop 80s, the burlesque loving Vix n The Kix and her latest incarnation in her Americana/ new country/folk rock and pop band.


PB: 'Console Me', your track on the the original tape, is appearing on CD with the new box set for the first time. Are you hoping this compilation will encourage new listeners to discover the Fuzzbox back catalogue?

VP: 'Console Me' was the first song that I ever wrote. It actually started off as a poem from when I was probably about eleven! It would be bostin' if more people discovered the Fuzzbox back catalogue as there is so much to delve into. I still think that we were one of a kind and, as the UK’s most successful all-girl band (Still?! How did that happen?), it would be great to inspire other female musicians and bands to get out there too.

PB: What is your favourite Fuzzbox song?

VP: Ooh… tricky… I love 'Rules and Regulations'. That was the second song that I ever wrote, and it became such an indie anthem it was number one in the indie charts for twenty-five weeks. Other favourites would be 'What’s the Point?', 'Do You Know?', 'You!' and even 'Pink Sunshine'.

PB: Rather like the Spice Girls, Fuzzbox were seen by some at the time as feminist icons and others by putting the movement back by years. Did you feel under pressure to behave and look a certain way?

VP: I just don’t see the Spice Girls and Fuzzbox as the same at all. Other than the fact that we are all female! We played our own instruments, wrote our own songs and we were already mates who chose to form a band; we were not a manufactured band who were put together by the music biz to fill a hole.

There was pressure to behave and dress a certain way, but, speaking for myself, I always dressed the way I wanted to. We were all very different characters and our opinions and outfits reflected that. Once we achieved a level of success, I guess we did realise that we were role models for other young women, and, whilst we rarely took ourselves seriously, we took our responsibilities seriously.

PB: Do you think Fuzzbox were a bit too ahead of your time and might have been bigger had you been around later?

VP: Yeah, I do. I lot of people say that.

PB: On your website you list a dizzying array of influences and musical peers, from Rumer to Stevie Nicks, Richard Hawley, to Crowded House via Imelda May, Laura Cantrell, Chris Isaak and Taylor Swift to name a few. Is there any one artist or style that really inspires you?

VP: Oh, the list goes on and on…I have pretty eclectic taste; I love Blondie, Kate Bush, Wanda Jackson, Eva Cassidy, Goldfrapp, Lonnie Donegan…

If I had to pick my fave artist of all time though, it would absolutely be Elvis Presley.

PB: I published a series of pieces last year in which people chose their favourite album. Many writers chose an album from their teens. Doctor Ruth Deller of Sheffield Hallam University chose 'Big Bang'. She wondered if you had any one album that means a lot to you.

VP: Wow! That’s cool. I would love to know why she chose that. Any one album is hard. But – I would have to go for 'The Kick Inside' by Kate Bush. I vividly remember lying on my tummy on my bed, propped up on my elbows, legs crossed at the ankles (you know the pose), fascinated by the artwork, learning the lyrics which predominantly celebrated female sexuality/sensuality and I would practice singing as high as she did. God, I listened to that vinyl over and over. It was empowering stuff for a pre-pubescent girl.

PB: Other than ‘Your Loss My Gain’ were there other tracks recorded for the third album that never was, and, if so, will we ever hear them?

VP: Yes! 'You!' was recorded at the same time as 'Your Loss, My Gain'. It was becoming increasingly difficult to write together and agree on a direction. We had begun as school girls, who were all into the alternative scene, but as the years went on we all developed our own musical tastes. We recorded these two tracks with Lee Roy Gorman, who had worked with Bow Wow Wo and Adam and the Ants, and then in a last ditch attempt rocker Robin George, who had worked with Thin Lizzy, Robert Plant, Glenn Hughes and Ruby Turner.

This was right up my street as the songs sounded just how I imagined them when I first wrote them, like a ‘proper’ singer-songwriter and they were more guitar-oriented. So, when Fuzzbox called it a day, I continued working with Robin and wrote/recorded some fantastic songs in the bluesy/country/rock genre. My own versions of these two songs are on my solo album 'LovePower and Peace', which was produced by Robin George. There’s still loads more tracks for a future retrospective album too…

PB: Do you have any gigs or new releases planned in 2014?

VP: Sure do! I have a brand new scrumptious all-girl band ViX & her MsChiefs, and we have our debut EP 'Live at Magic Garden' available later in the summer. There’s a signed limited red CD edition, which reminded me of the early 'We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna to Use It' vinyl EP!

I put the band together within a week, and we went out straight away and played our debut gig with nearly two hours of material. I still do like to keep myself on my toes. Although it’s Americana style, I think Fuzzy fans will like it as there’s plenty of fun and spontaneity and great tunes.

PB: Thank you.















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