Love him or loathe him Wattie Buchan has been at the forefront of Punk for 40 years, delivering his own thoughts, opinion, and music regardless of who disagrees with it. Despite serious health issues over the last few years he has continued to tour the world bringing his Scottish anger and rage to the masses. Ten-Midnight.com asked him a few questions before The Exploited get their passports out and embark on another tour.
In 1970s, Edinburgh who were the bands that started to get you interested in Punk, were there any local bands that were creating a following you used to go to see regularly and how were The Exploited regarded around the city breaking through at that time?
The first punk band I ever saw was The Vibrators and Johnny Moped, who just shouted and I thought I can do that (shout). I went to see him a few months ago and he still can’t sing but that’s Punk rock. There were a good few local punk bands at the time like Belsen Horrors, The Threats and Alternative to name just a few. All the promoters were scared to put us on as we had a really big skinhead following and we used to get a lot of gigs being smashed up.
Brash aggressive tones, straight to the point with opinions and very black humour to see you through the unjust and hardest of times, this is how Scottish working class youths are prepared to tackle adult life. Is this the real driving force behind The Exploited music for 40 years, do you feel that your Scottish character is sometimes perceived as violent and aggressive around the world just through your accent?
Very much so, our music was based on anger as we all came from a working class backdrop with real poverty back in the eighties. The Scottish accent is a strong accent, especially when you are shouting or swearing it can come across as keep away from these people.
Myself like many others followed The Exploited in the early years, from “Army Life” to “Troops of Tomorrow” giving something that was a little more raw, fast and furious but still had bit of melody lurking in there, that changed with “The Massacre” Album where things went up a few gears and decibels. Did you ever consider over the years going back to a slower pace with a bit more melody, or was this the right direction for the band to continue on?
We have always played faster than 95 % of other punk bands and The Massacre was even a bit faster than the previous albums, it was a very important album for us as we started getting a cross over following and ever since then we have went from strength to strength with our albums.
As the Exploited front man you have always been passionate about how the Exploited have not compromised their Punk morals and ethics, often calling out other bands that have been less than genuine with the claims they make to Punk audiences. Do you feel as a band this has restricted you in any way over the years, as the Punk community is not as open minded as it claims to be at times?
I have never given a shit about what people say about us, I just know we have been to true to the ideas of punk and there is hardly any other band that can say that. We get a lot of shit talked about us by idiots who I just laugh at.
Crass and Conflict were two of the bands you were vocal about at the time, though at the height of their popularity they seemed to be creating something that was in line with your own thoughts. Poking a stick at the establishment and shouting loudly about it, while encouraging and at times funding the DIY culture in Punk to grow around the UK for a short time. Has your view of them softened any over the years for what they achieved?
Crass and Conflict hahahah! Where do I start with them? First up I loved the Crass first album (Feeding of the 5000) but when I got to know them, what they preached and what they did where two different things. I will just tell you one thing as I would be here all week writing this, first up Crass went on about not making money well they owned a recording studio called Strawberry Studios, which they put under their friends name so it didn’t come back on them. I know this as we recorded there when we did the (Lets Start a War album) and my pet hate in life is liars and people believed in them but they were, pardon the pun “exploiting their fans!!
As for Conflict they were full of shit and still are, they went about preaching all this shit about not making money or playing established venues, but they play the same clubs like us and got paid good money, they also used to have a fund, like if you got fined on say an animal rights march, they said they would pay your fines. More rubbish, they just bought drugs with the money another fact!!! When I had my second heart attack Colin the singer from Conflict sent me a nice email, so I decided not to keep slagging them off as it was a long time ago, but I do like to hold a grudge, especially when I know the other person is a liar and talking shit. Anyway a lot of people who thought I was the one talking shit, now know everything I said was 100% true. What did they achieve fuck all as far as I can see.
Play: The Exploited – Lets Start A War
Your health became a real problem for you in 2014 with serious heart issues, how has this changed your outlook on life if at all. Have you considered ending the band and taking life a little easier, you don’t seem to have made many changes judging by the tour dates over these few years despite a couple more scares?
The last 5 years have been really shit health wise and I really should be dead 5 heart attacks, a quad heart bypass, a gastric bypass, 2 hernia operations. I thought I would have to stop with the band as I was really ill 6 months ago, we done our last gig as I thought I was having another heart attack on stage but it was just that my heart wasn’t strong enough to push the blood around my body so I felt like I was going to pass out. So 3 months ago I got a heart pacemaker fitted but ever since then I have been really ill and short of breath with a chest infection, anyway I am a bit better and looking forward to our next gigs which starts at the end of Feb, when we go to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, so I will find out if I am still fit enough to gig, that is the plan anyway.
There are always rumblings of another Exploited album in the pipeline, is this any further forward?
Yeah its been I think about 14 years since the last one, we have written at least 14 great tunes but I just need to put proper lyrics to them. For me, punk is angry music, so for me to write lyrics I have to be angry, but now am not so angry as I just appreciate still being alive but I hope to do another album before I have to call it a day at some point.
I’m sure Wattie Buchan would be a name on a few lists of those who have contributed and been most Influential in the Punk movement since its emergence, which names would you say should get some recognition for screaming and kicking out over the years and why?
Bands like the Varkers, Uk Subs, Charlie Harper the Lead singer must be about 74 now? and he still does gigs and he is just what punk rock was about. He helps other bands get gigs, he always has time to talk to his fans that follow them, Also GBH and Johnny Moped, who is 100 % the spirit of Punk Rock, just get up and play. There is a wee band from Edinburgh called the Happy Spastics which have been around for a while and deserve a mention.
There is no finesse or confusion regarding The Exploited lyrics, they either hit you between the eyes or rammed down your throat with intent. With all the music the band has released over the years, what has been your finest moment lyrically something that was a pleasure getting the message across to an audience?
Punks not Dead! as that is a living statement. Also, the song (Was it me) which I wrote about my ex best mate of 20 odd years because it is really not what I would call an exploited song, as it is slow and melodic but everywhere we play all over the world loves it.
When The Exploited first took to the stage Punk was a reaction to the unjust circumstances forced upon the working class at the time, with the countrie’s youth finding a voice of protest. Why do you think Punk or another movement has not replicated this in today’s society with any real force, do you think there is the same willingness to fight the establishment in today’s young people?
That’s a good question, I think it is harder now with all the laws that have been brought in that stops people protesting like we did in the eighties. Back when I started with the Exploited there was so much Poverty and injustice through the Torys and Maggie Thatcher, that keep Punk going really strong with a lot of violence at gigs and quite a few riots also. I think now everyone complains about anything and everything but do nothing apart from going on social media and talk, talk, talk, yeah no action what so ever.
If there is a voice of protest to take over from bands such as the Exploited, who are they, which bands have impressed you on your travels around the world that we should check out?
We have played with a lot of great bands all over the world, from the USA a band called (so unloved ) also (The Casualties) from Russia a great band called (FPG) and a metal band called Exodus who are Brilliant.
What now for the Exploited and more importantly yourself in 2019?
Hopefully I get rid of being ill and start back doing loads of gigs as we have the USA and South America lined up for this year, along with a lot of festivals that we are headlining, so I’m really hoping that after 5 years of being ill and fighting to get fit again after everything I have been through and the effort I have made to get back to doing gigs pays off. As this will be our 40 years of The Exploited the one true Punk band who is still doing It their way.