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Seven Quick Questions... No Tag

Seven Quick Questions... No Tag

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Wednesday 19th August, 2015 2:55PM

Auckland's own eighties oi band No Tag are emerging from the woodwork to play a short set at the Kings Arms Tavern next month as park of the Punk It Up showcase. The one-off performance is an answered wish for many long-standing fans, who over the decades have implored the rowdy four-piece to reform for a show. With D-day nearing, UnderTheRadar took the opportunity to catch up with San Fran-based guitarist Andrew Boak to see what exactly prompted the reunion all these years later...

1. First off, for people who might not know, can you please tell us a little bit about the history of No Tag?

No Tag formed in 1980 with Paul Van Wetering on vocals/guitar, Andrew Boak on guitar, Mark Sullivan on bass, and Carl Van Wetering on drums. We wanted to do something original based along the lines of the Oi/punk music coming out of England at the time. We played around Auckland for many years and released an EP (which went to #15 in the national charts) and a live LP called Can We Get Away With It, both records were on the Propellor Records label. We played wherever we could - school, municipal halls, parties, and at the few venues that would have us. There was a large amount of discrimination against punk bands back then (as there probably still is), so we didn’t really get as many gigs at regular venues as we should’ve, considering the size of the following that we had


2. What drew you to the Oi subgenre, which was coming out of the UK at the time?

We liked the straight forward 4/4 rock sound of the punk/Oi records coming out of the UK at the time, rather than the more quirky punk stuff. It had a driving, powerful feel and that’s what we wanted to have. Our influences were extremely varied, on top of the punk/Oi coming out of England, there was the US hardcore stuff, the aforementioned quirky punk, and loads of other influences like classic reggae and the like.

3. It sounds like No Tag shows could get pretty raucous. Which gig stands out most in your memory?

No Tag gigs were definitely full on, when you mix loud driving music with alcohol, you definitely get some raucousness, but that’s what we wanted to do, provide some positive energy to our punters. Our best gig, in my opinion, was when we reformed to play support to the Dead Kennedys at Mainstreet. The place was packed and we had managed to rehearse all afternoon on the actual stage, so we were keyed in sound wise.

4. Why did you stop playing together?

The first time we stopped playing was because Mark went to England to live, but when he came back we started up again and played in New Zealand for a few more years, then left to go to London, England, to seek fame and fortune. We spent four years in London, basically going nowhere fast, and finally called it a day at the end of the 80s.

5. What triggered you to get back together for the show next month?

Many, many people have asked us to reform to play over the years, but some members of the band have declined, and the only way we would do it is if it is ALL the original members. I live in San Francisco too, so the logistics are hard, as you have to factor in rehearsal time etc… We have gotten together to have a secret jam or two when I have been in Auckland over the last few years, and those have been pretty fun. The reason for getting together for the show is that I’ll be visiting my family, so will be in New Zealand, and that we were asked to join with the other bands on the line-up (The Spelling Mistakes, The Cavemen, Ex-Features, bankRobbers) to make a good complete show. It will be a short set from us, we’re not really the headliner and will be going on in the middle of the show.

6. Your debut EP is being re-issued on vinyl later this year through Radio Raheem Records. How did you connect with them?

We were approached by them after they had gotten my email address from Simon Kay (a Kiwi who is involved in the NZ scene). Simon had considered re-releasing the EP for Record Store Day, but the logistics of doing it from NZ meant that it didn’t end up happening. Radio Raheem therefore stepped up and got everything going. We were hoping that the release would be in time for us to import some copies in for the show, but it currently looks like it’ll be in stores in NZ not long after the show.

7. How does it feel to see old fans coming out of the woodwork, looking forward to seeing you play together once more?

The response has been excellent so far. Remember that the show has other bands (and DJs) too, so the whole package makes a pretty good lineup. The response on social media has been great, and I know of quite a few people that are flying/driving up from Wellington and other parts of NZ, and I believe even Aussie, just to go to the show. For us, it will be wonderful to get back up on the stage and deliver some energy to the people!

No Tag are performing as part of Punk It Up on Saturday 5th September along with The Spelling Mistakes, The X-Features, The Cavemen, bankRobbers and more. Head over here for more information and to buy tickets.


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