Perp Walk Vocalist Paul Collier Talks Bristol Hardcore, Chain Punk and Pandemic-Era Anger

Photo: Ben Hunt

The COVID pandemic made just about everyone angry. Some of that fury got directed at family and friends, plenty of it was aimed at politicians and the state. Anger is a by-product of confusion. It can often be misdirected (of which there were ample wild barbs being flung about during the lockdown era) however it can also generate deeply-felt righteous fury that maniacally zeros in on its targets.

Working in healthcare during the pandemic, Perp Walk frontman Paul Collier saw some shit. As he explains in this interview, the era brought forth monsters, of which the band's debut EP The Chain of Infection functions as a flaming sword swinging for their ever-sprouting heads. Its five tracks are nasty, fun and laser-focused, brimming with ferocity as well as a keen understanding of the stomping joys of hardcore.

Following the EP’s warmly-received release and after killer support slots with the likes of Scowl, Fucked Up, and Sheer Terror, we caught up with Paul to discuss Perp Walk, Bristol hardcore chain punk and much more.

Hi Paul, please introduce yourself.

My name is Paul Collier and I write lyrics and do vocals in Perp Walk.

For non-UK readers, can you paint a picture of the part of the world that Perp Walk hails from?

Perp Walk are based in the city of Bristol. It’s in the South West of the UK, two and a half hours drive from London. Growing up there, before it was gentrified, it was fairly gritty, you had to watch yourself. But it’s always been an inclusive and liberal city, anarchistic in a lot of ways; a melting pot of ideologies and creeds and it’s somewhere I think myself and all of the band are proud to be from.

READ MORE: 6 Swedish Underrated ‘90s Hardcore Bands

Tell us about your scene there.

There’s been a real resurgence in the punk and hardcore scene across the last few years. When COVID shut everything down, a lot of new bands and promoters sprung up and since then things have been wild.

I used to put on shows prior to COVID, in both Cardiff and Bristol, and it could be difficult to get people out to come to gigs in Bristol unless renowned bands came through. Now, from what I’ve seen through both playing in this band and from talking to others, much more people are coming out.

Depending on your poison, in terms of punk and hardcore, I recommend Overpower, Tension, Gimic, Peruvian Necktie, and Uncertainty, to name just a few bands.

Your insta bio that says “egg fried chain” made me laugh. What attracts you to the chain punk sound and aesthetic?

We try not to take ourselves too seriously [laughs]. I guess with our band, I think we sit bang in the middle of punk and hardcore. What attracts me to the chain punk side of it reminds me of older punk and hardcore from the '80s and '90s. The Flex, for example, are a band who I guess could be considered a chain punk band and also sit in both punk and hardcore.

Whether or not the aesthetic attracts me to it, I’m not sure, I just try to be myself. Leather jackets are cool though [laughs].

You released your debut EP, The Chain of Infection, in May, does the finished creation resemble what you imagined when you were writing and recording it?

I think we didn’t have any expectations when we went into the studio to record it. It had been a few years in the making as Dan [Melizan, guitar] had been sitting on the tracks from a project he wanted to start a while back before myself and the other members got involved.

From my own point of view, I just wanted to document and say what I saw and felt from the perspective of someone working in healthcare during the pandemic and if people can relate to that then I know I’ve done something right. So far it’s been received better than I could have ever hoped for.

You released it on the killer UK label Crew Cuts. How did that relationship come about?

I’ve known Dan, who runs Crew Cuts, for years, back from when he played in his old band Boxkite and Dan Melz knew him from putting out his previous projects on the label. Dan M. got in touch to see if he would be interested and it basically worked itself out from there. Dan’s a good guy and has done a lot for us in terms of helping us out with printing our merch and pre-ordering our vinyl and we’re proper grateful to him for that.

Your voice has a distinct texture, who were some of your influences as a vocalist?

I could list loads, but for this band, in no particular order: Ross Farrar (Ceremony), Wally Edge (Rotting Out, Minority Unit), Pierre Pelbu (Knuckledust, Bun Dem Out), Lee Spielman (Trash Talk), Greg Falchetto (The Mongoloids, Hold My Own), James Pligge (Harm’s Way) and tons more.

What was your personal introduction to hardcore?

From what I can recall, it started watching my dad’s DVD of [Sex Pistols documentary] The Filth and The Fury. That started my interest in punk. At 16, I discovered Gallows via Kerrang! magazine which changed everything. Orchestra of Wolves and then Grey Britain were albums that at first terrified me but I then related to in terms of the culture of the early 2000s that I was growing up in.

Dead Swans’ album Sleepwalkers was also a big influence. I then discovered Trash Talk after seeing them live in TJ’s (legendary venue in Newport, Wales). That turned my world upside down and I started to discover more about hardcore.

My first smaller hardcore show was at The Croft (now The Crofters Rights) in Bristol where I grew up. The line up consisted of Defeater, Dead Swans, More Than Life, and Lost Souls, who were a local band. I think I was around 16-17 then too.

Photo: Ben Hunt

What ideas do your lyrics tackle? Personal? Political? A combination of both?

Probably a combination of both. Anything that pisses me off, upsets me or I feel that I need to address in my own way tends to get written about. Nothing is really off limits as long as I know how to word it and talk about it in my own way and be as philosophical as possible. I’m not an angry guy in my day-to-day life so this music is a way for me to release the anger I bottle up.

READ MORE: Hardcore’s Brief Flirtation with Reggae

You work for the NHS and I believe at least one track on the EP was inspired by your experiences there? Which one was that and can you elaborate on it?

The Chain of Infection, as a record, addresses my experiences of working through the pandemic and what I felt and saw in that period. It’s a time I look back on with anger because of the person in charge of the UK at the time failing to act and needlessly politicizing something that was a threat to everyone.

The quote “let the bodies pile higher” is one that I will never forgive or forget. The songs also address abuses of power, my opinions of myself, friends changing for the worse, the apathy of being stuck in routine with no escape, my hatred of racists and racism in general and my contempt for people with a lack of empathy and compassion for others. They’re all interlinked regarding the time period it was written in.

Photo: Yazan Abbas

What shows, releases or anything else does Perp Walk currently have lined up?

The Chain of Infection is out now via Crew Cuts Records and is streaming on all audio platforms. Thank you if you’ve picked it up already, we appreciate it! We have new music for a two, maybe a 3-track EP which we’re gonna be recording this month.

We’re playing with Chain Whip in Bristol on November 18th, headlining The Moon in Cardiff on November 25th and supporting Militarie Gun at Thekla in Bristol on December 3rd. That’s likely to be our last show of the year. We’re also playing Entombed Festival in Hastings next March with loads of rad bands. Otherwise we’re just chilling and planning to play more new places next year!


Perp Walk on social media: Instagram | Bandcamp


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