The Healthy Junkies: Camden, Drugs and Gentrification
Written by: Violet Myers
It seems only yesterday that The Sex Pistols burst onto the British music scene; shoving safety pins through anything that dangled, mysteriously disposing of girlfriends and generally causing all sorts of ruckus. Well, it may be time to bin that calendar, it was far from yesterday, it wasn’t even last week, punk is turning 40! But will it be buying a inappropriate Ferrari and heading for the inevitable midlife crisis? It seems Johnny Rotten is more into butter than anarchy these days… Luckily, the next generation of bands are attempting to lead punk out of the dairy isle and back on tour.
In celebration of 40 years of upsetting our neighbours and lowering our parent’s expectations we spoke to North London band ‘The Healthy Junkies’ to talk politics, Camden and girls who rock.
Punk is turning 40, is it now good and truly dead?
“It never went away it just went underground! Bands like the UK Subs continued relentlessly touring during the 80s and 90s. Over the past 15 years or so it started to build up momentum again.”
Do you think music can have an affect on politics?
“In the past music certainly has affected politics with songs of protest in the 60s, anti-system, nihilism and frustration of society in the 70s for sure. These days it seems social media has a bigger impact than music on people and politics, the internet is the super star of now. However, music with a political message is relevant when used as a way of seeping into people’s psyche.“
How has London changed for you in the past few years?
“I read recently that about 40% of underground music venues have closed in recent years to make way for property developers who convert them into overpriced flats, or build flats next to venues which have been there for many years and then have to close because of noise complaints from the new tenants next door.”
“London is being gentrified and sold off at the expense of its richness of culture, which includes live music. It is more expensive and more crowded than ever. This is all happening in the name of progress and expanding the economy. At what cost though? But I still love London.”
Is Camden still cool?
“Camden is still cool in terms of the music venues that remain and the core of alternative people that are still battling on. The market is somewhat of a tourist theme park but I would miss it if it weren’t there. The market has also been sold recently so who knows what the future holds for Camden. As long as Pepi’s Hairdressers is still in Camden Market then it’s still cool!”
Front woman Nina left home at 14 and battled with drugs from a young age. Have these experiences helped you to write music? Does it give you an opportunity to deal with your past?
“I would say yes. It has given me something else to write about that is out of the ordinary in terms of my life path. Music has given me hope and an aim, a direction to steer my life in a positive direction, a dream and aspirations. It does help me therapeutically and keeps me on the (not so straight) and narrow. Some of the songs contain autobiographical experiences, better to put them on the page sometimes and leave them in there.”
What keeps you in London?
“The fact that there are so many alternative, like-minded people here and despite the venue closures still gigs to be had. New people from all over the world arrive frequently looking to taste London’s rock’n’roll heritage. In fact the Healthy Junkies bass player is from Sardinia and the drummer from Venezuela, both very talented musicians attracted to London because of its history and hope. We go to many underground gigs as well as our monthly nights at The Unicorn including The Dublin Castle, Proud Gallery and The Underworld in Camden. Also there are gigs in Holloway down the road like the 12 Bar, The Garage and The Big Red, which is a rock bar where everyone goes after hours.”
How do you feel when people say women can’t rock?
“Of course that’s not true and is an attitude we don’t follow. There are so many great female fronted punk rock bands happening all over the UK, Europe, the States and Australia that we have had the pleasure of seeing and playing with. Bands like Dragster, In Evil Hour, Brassick, The Kut, Loaded 44, Louise Distrass, Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson’s, Polly Pickpocketz spring to mind but there are many more. These bands all have their own style and they definitely rock ! Kurt Cobain said that the future of rock’n’roll is with girls.”
The Healthy Junkies new album ‘Box of Chaos’ launches 20th February. Be sure to catch the band every second Saturday of the month at Punk ‘n’ Roll Rendezvous at The Unicorn, Camden. More info.
Images: courtesy of The Healthy Junkies.
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Next Friday night, ignore your mounting list of life admin and venture outwards into the ether for a misanthropic wine a plenty. It’s the Black Books pub quiz at The Duke of Wellington as part of their couch potato themed quiz series. Entry is a meagre £2 but you can win some cold hard real cash if you’re up on your Dylan Moran / Tamsin Greig / Bill Bailey shaped references.
Who are the Heather Brothers? It’s a question that’s been keeping me up at night. Ever since I was asked to review their latest musical, Holy Crap, I’ve been trapped in something of a Google wormhole. To begin at the beginning: the Heather Brothers are, depending on who you ask, a musical writing duo/trio/quartet. Born in London, they grew up in Zimbabwe, where they spent their teenage years performing in a fraternal rock band. Again, depending on who you ask, they were variously known as: The Chequers, The Three People or Quiet World.
“Arriving back in the UK, after a long time away, there seemed to have been a swing towards xenophobia and the dehumanizing and vilify of both migrants and refugees was happening at the highest levels. I wanted to create a short that would address this trend.” Director Daniel Mulloy
The gin enthusiasts down at Hendricks have decided to take these cucumber celebrations a slice further with their Cultivate the Unusual campaign. Encouraging gin fans to grow their own cucumbers over the last few months in preparation, Hendricks are asking us to bring said veggies to participating pubs and bars this Thursday 15th June. The Canonbury Tavern for example, will light up if you walk in with a cucumber and will proceed to exchange it for a free gin and tonic. Can you imagine?
Hang Up Gallery have some pretty hush hush news. And it goes a little something like this: Darryl ‘Run’ DMC McDaniels will be popping up in the Stoke Newington gallery this month to launch his new collection of works, The Art of DMC. This is the icon’s first London exhibition, showing new and unseen collection of ‘Darryl Makes Comics (DMC)’ Fine Art, a body of signed limited edition prints showcasing his underlying passion for comics.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Summer of Love ’67 where freedom of expression, art and love reigned supreme. #ShopStroudGreen are celebrating the fact with a Summer of Love Local weekend festival this June. Celebrate artistic expression and support local independent traders and makers with a weekend of live art, workshops and music (with a few special discounts, tasters and freebies for good measure).
Oh snap! Another general election looms. Whether you’re hopeful for a landslide win or a surprising wild card outcome, wipe the bitter disappointment from your tastebuds with some gins, ales, burgers and strong covfefe. Because let’s face, it will be neither of those results will it really? Find the perfect place for you to receive the bad news in good company.
Get a different perspective on the city you live in this June. Film London are holding a screening of archive footage of London’s outer boroughs through the decades, underscored by live music accompaniment. The best of London’s Screen Archives hugely successful project, London: A Bigger Picture will be shown, funded by Heritage Lottery three years ago.
We caught up with Snowy the Harringay Station cat to talk Twitter, working life and his unsavoury friendship with Gus the fox. Summer is coming and, in North London, that means it’s time to hit the train stations. So we took Snow the Haringey Station Cat and photographer Mike Barry tumbling across one of them: the undergrowth of Haringey Station. Then we sat down with Snowy for a raw conversation about how to move forward after things fall apart.
“You grow it, we mow it” might be their blasé catchphrase, but Rocket’s attitude to your haircut is far from casual. These guys are serious about hair and the person that grew it. Rocket Stoke Newington are holding a day of free beer and entertainment with your cut in aid of Men’s Mental Health Sunday this 12th June. Also known as “Chopping for Chazza”, there’ll be talks on mental health, stand up comedy and more from 12 - 5pm.
Unless you’re already working for charity or regularly ‘do your bit’, that £6 monthly donation to The Dogs Trust might not be doing enough to quash your conscience / save the world. Whether you’re doing it for experience, to reset your karmic balance or generally give back and help out, there’ll be a role out there for you. On the Volunteer Centre Camden’s website for example, there’s a handy search page that lets you filter through hundreds of opportunities by location, interest and activity.
Currently showing at Camden People’s Theatre, performance artist Tom Marshman’s play Kings Cross (Remix) is a glorious celebration of a bygone era. The show is a tightly crafted journey through the stories of some of the people who made up the 1980s Kings Cross LGBTQ scene. Bursting with warmth, charm and affection, the play is a must see for anyone interested in learning more about London’s alternative history.
The Londoner behind 'Strong and Stable My Arse'. It’s a simple message. A slogan that’s straight to the point. 'Strong and Stable My Arse’ is a statement everyone can understand with a wry grin as they spot it slathered onto billboards, phone boxes and brick walls around the UK. So who could possibly be behind such a simple, cheeky, dig in the ribs campaign? Someone who knows his audience, who knows the mindset of the British like the back of his left hand.