round for dinner," they said.
intrigued, my stomach rumbled in
anticipation. An eating-packed,
bloaterising evening was well on the
cards, what with Rubella drummer Sid
being a fully qualified five star chef
the appointed day with unfed mouth and
rapidly rose to a feverish starvation
buzzed, hunger high. Taste buds not so
much salivating as positively dripping.
wicked ballerinas put a cruel twist on
the nights expected orgy of
consumption. I arrive to find slack jawed
lead stringsman Pete Fender on the
cuisine-duty roster and presented before
me is a pilchard, some potatoes and
several dollops of green slime with
stuck well in, I chew heartily actually
finding the mess quite tasty. In fact
there isn't an unfinished plate in the
house, all eight diners tucking in with
should explain. Me, the four Rubella
Balleters and Poison Girls, Vi, Lance and
Richard. No, these last three didn't
gatecrash, they live here too.
the mother of one half of Rubella; namely
bassist and voice, Gem Stone and the
aforementioned galley serf Pete. Besides
the resting cookery professor (once
prepared nosh for fourteen hundred,
y`know) Sid, there is chief singer
youve probably already made the
Bushellian mistake of herding Rubella
Ballet in amongst the seemingly endless
line of Crass/Poison Girls clones all of
whom rampage furiously away with varying
degrees of impact.
while the Poison Girls spectre is
unavoidably near, any direct and obvious
influence is minimal. Just the briefest
glimpse of Rubella playing live, or for
that matter, lounging around on a sofa
doing an interview, leaves a person in no
doubt as to their variance from the
dressed all in black, every word I say is
important school of (more often than not)
quartet are attired in a colourful array
of bright togs, not a leather jacket in
sight. Bondage? Forget it, this is the
glad rag liberation!
Everyone is very dark these days.
Black and dismal and singing about
warfare. We don't play songs about
warfare, it's time to think about living,
not worry about dying.
If people aren't dark and dismal
they're soppy and wet looking like that
other group with Ballet in their name.
The sort of songs that Crass bands do
always end up sounding really depressing.
I want to make good music and have people
enjoy it. I don't want them to go away
thinking 'oh, I really agree with that, I
must get some information on it.
play music with lyrics rather than
slogans with a noise behind it. Not
ramming our opinions down other people's
throats. That is an obvious way to build
up a following or a movement which I
consider to be quite false. If someone
wants to be into your band they should be
into it because of the music...
And not because of the politics. If
we don't put any politics over people
will come to see us only because they
like the music. Not because we're going
to brainwash them into being anarchists
or pacifists or National Front or
If Crass weren't anarchists they
wouldn't have a following because,
lets face it, their music is pretty
bad. Pursuing a certain way of playing or
thinking always generates opposition. If
you don't try to convince people to think
your way then you remove those
So you don't get people coming who
are just into anarchy or just into this
or that. A lot of people object to
playing to skinheads. We don't object to
playing to anybody. We've played to an
eighty percent British Movement
Although we didn't know before hand
it was going to be like that. Afterwards
they were all cheering for more.
pink-haired chanteuse chooses to ignore
the fact that the same gathering would
probably respond just as wildly to a film
of the Nuremburg rallies. I'm getting the
distinct impression that this group are
over reacting to the substantial and
committed political involvement of Crass
and Poison Girls.
the Ballet ones are a political non
thinkers but rather they are desperately
keen to assert their own individual
identity away from these parental (in one
case literally!) figures.
they now have an almost-paranoiac
wariness of being associated in print
with Crass. They feel a recent NME live
review was an attempt to use them to
devalue said band.
A lot of people think Poison Girls
started us off but that's not true. I was
playing in groups even before Poison
About three years ago I moved into
the house that Poison Girls were living
in. There was a room to play music in so
we (him, Gem and Pete) went in there and
jammed. We found we could all play
had two or three singers then we found
Zillah and we've spent the last two and a
half years teaching her to sing.
(incredulously) You mean I
can sing now?"
I haven't been turned on musically
by anything that came after 1973. My
favourite groups have always been the
Rolling Stones and the Beatles. I like
the seventies music but the stuff that
was exciting not just pretend. I was more
into punk for the spirit than the
When I was a punk back in '76 we
hadn't even heard of the Sex Pistols. I
used to go down to the Lacy Lady when
Chris Hill was there and dress up. People
called us punks. Suddenly there was the Today
programme and everybody wanted to be a
real punk scene was before that. Like the
mod scene, we used to go to the mod
nights at the Bridgehouse but after
Secret Affair had been on Top Of The Pops
it just wasn't a scene anymore. I
definitely preferred punk in the old
Punk now is so split. Youve
got Crass, UK Subs, Oi!, Skins, its
all different sections."
Were still into the cheapness
of punk, like making your own clothes.
We're more into the spirit of punk than
And the spirit rather than the
racket of punk.
is assuredly not what is revealed with
their debut piece of hardware, namely the
'Ballet Bag'. Available through Xntris
the package includes a badge, a poster, a
lyric book and a cassette. All at is
required from the consumer is the
shelling out of modest two notes.
dispenses a stern, jarring (in the good,
stimulating, sense) medicine. In parts
there is an a unmistakable taste of the
early, unsettling Banshees, the drums
roll and thunder over the beats as
ZiIIah's vocals veer from passionate to
arrangements swing from urgent, speedy
pounding to controlled, biting, almost
funk rhythms. The tape format was opted
for in preference to vinyl in order to
showcase the compositional diversity.
is entitled 'A Dream Of Honey'. Zillah
and Gem grudgingly admit it was written
about Honey Bane, an EMI recording star
who once, of course, lined up alongside
Gem and Pete in the Fatal Microbes.
The song's not meant to slag her.
Some of the things she set out to achieve
she almost did. All her records on little
labels were really good but the Top Of
The Pops things were rubbish.
She gave up her ideals for money.
Last time I saw her she looked unhappy
and depressed. Major labels dilute you.
They water the music down and take away
hastens to disagree: No they
dont, not always, not if you don't
if a cigar-toting top record company
executive parked the limo'outside the
door and offered them a deal?
"I'd tell him I was busy and to come
back tomorrow, when I'd made sure I was
keeping with the described
anti-propaganda stance, the lyrics never
take a firm stand one way or the other.
But sometimes they sit too firmly on the
fence, often to the extent of becoming
is about the much-publicised aid a
suicide brigade. ZiIIah penned the words
but her intent is never clear.
question things, I don't give answers in
my songs because everyone has different
answers but not always the full question.
I mean everyone might have the right to
commit suicide but should someone help
them? It can escalate into euthanasia.
There is no answer.
about 'Belfast' the title and the
drawings in the lyric book reveal the
subject matter but the actual verses are
about someone who got his legs blown off
and had to go home where they wouldn't
help him down the stairs.
giggles stupidly and hides her head under
It's sort of written in bits.
Abstract, is that the word? It's
difficult at first but if you read
through it youll understand it. You
have to think about our band, even we've
all got different opinions.
just about sums it up. Despite my doubts
over the lyrics, it is the four
originalities pulling in different ways,
as Sid said later, that gives Rubella
Ballet's music a fresh and dynamic
crossed that this chemistry of variants
doesn't pull them apart too quickly.