Lets be honest here, everybody hitting London shows knows Ferg. Probably the only guy from the day one I stepped into UKHC waters who has been extraordinary polite, friendly, welcoming and always ready to engage in chat. Spreading the positive mental attitude message across and I dont remember single show where I would see him upset or grumpy.
He is cool guy to hang with, but damn it, folks, do not try to engage in interview with him, this one took longer than my wife`s pregnancy, honestly, if you can just drag him by his shirt, get your tape recorder or whatever people use for face to face interviews ready and talk to him in person otherwise your hair will get grey as mine, haha.
At the end, we made it and this is it. Lets take it as short introduction into his world. Ladies and gentlemen, Ferg Simonds from Fort Vallance band (RIP) and member of Ready Eye Collective.
R: How is life Ferg? What was the last thing you did 5 minutes before you sat down and decided to commit to the interview?
F: Life is good thanks, 5 minutes ago I was having dinner with Hannah.
R: What do you normally have for dinner? What is the favorite dish you cannot resist?
F: Pizza, simple as – I think I’ve got a problem. Friday’s have always been pizza night since I was a kid thanks to my Dad.
R: How is life with Corona? I believe you are still around working hard, aren’t you? What are the arrangements at your work? Did you work less during lockdown? How do you keep yourself safe when crashing others sinks and pipes?
F: My work life during the pandemic hasn’t really changed, during the initial lockdown work was extremely quiet so I was home early every day. After that first lockdown things started to get busier again and now it’s as if the pandemic never happened. Some customers are very cautious and others couldn’t care less about the guidelines, but I wear a mask in every house I work in and have hand sanitizer in my van. As a plumber you learn quickly to wash your hands!
R: I guess that is part of the job, to wash your hands properly, you dont want to touch your pizza with dirty one, haha.
Have you been engaging in arguments about wearing face mask with those who are refusing to wear it when you around or you have been keeping yours on and maintaining the distance? What is the company policy on Covid when it comes to your working condition?
F: No I haven’t been getting into arguments with customers, it’s not worth it. I always wear my mask and keep my distance. If a customer is getting too close, I will ask them to keep their distance. As an employee I have to look after myself as much as possible, but as a company policy it’s hard to comment. I’m a tradesman, our customers call to book us in and we have to trust that they are Covid free.
R: Who is Ferg? Tell us more about your early childhood. Lets talk about the earliest memory you have from your childhood? How was your childhood? Where did you grow up?
F: I was born and raised in Kingston with my sister, and my parents both worked in central London. When I was 11/12 my dad decided he’d had enough of London so we moved to a small village on the south coast of Dorset. I always struggle with earliest memories, but I remember being in the garden holding my hand out for a bee to land on and it instantly stung me!
R: Haha, you survived the attack, at least you know, you are not allergic to bee sting. How weird it was for you to move to other part of UK from London Kingston when you eleven years old? Leaving friends behind especially at that age. Were you upset about it or parents bribed you to keep you happy?
F: I think I was really lucky as the move from the city to the countryside was easy for me. A very close friend of mine, who I grew up with in London, his family moved to the same village my family eventually moved to. So we used to go and stay with them in the summer holidays. Which meant I already knew the area and had made friends before I moved. Plus, when you’re 11, moving from the city to the countryside feels like going on holiday.
R: Would you say your childhood was happy one?
F: My childhood was happy. I grew up with my sister who is and has always been one of my closest friends. My parents were/ are amazing and have always done everything they can within their means to help and support me.
R: What are the games you used to play in the fields or concrete jungle when young?
F: Growing up in Kingston most of my time was spent roller skating, skateboarding, bike riding and messing around at friends houses, playing Sega Mega drive and doing what kids do. When we moved to the countryside the skateboarding and bike riding continued; but now my friends and I could camp out in the woods, make fires and do dumb shit that got us in trouble…..and a lot of dumb stuff we didn’t get caught doing, you get away with more as a kid in the countryside!
R: Tell us what did you get away with?
F: I’m not grassing myself up, my Dad might read this! hahaha. But over the years there were lots of things that we used to get up to without our parents finding out.
R: Damn Ferg, seriously? Not a single secret coming out of you…
Do you still get on your deck nowadays or too much adult stuff in your life and skateboarding went sideways? What was your favorite trick? Did you skate street or transitions or bowls?
F: I guess I got my first skateboard at about 8, but at that age I was all about my Bauer Turbo quads. So I guess I started skateboarding properly at 10/11 and stopped skating at about 24ish. However I recently bought some new wheels and bearings and put them on my old setup, so let’s see how long it is until I end up in A&E.
R: How was your transition from kid to teenager? Do you remember time when you first started to take interests in girls or the adult stuff? The boy games suddenly got very boring and woman became the focus of your interest…maybe you are still keeping your kid soul inside you?
F: I’ve known from a very young age I had an interest in girls, but it’s never stopped me being a never ending kid! I do remember my friends and I losing interest in playing kids games but the transition from kid to teen was pretty smooth for me.
R: Do you remember the time when you heard hardcore / punk for the first time? What was the first record and how did you feel listening to it? Was it love on the first sight?
F: The first time I heard punk I was 12 and someone played me The Offspring, Americana. I had heard punk on skate videos before but I’d never known anyone who actually owned a punk album. From there I dug into punk and also metal, but as much as I loved all the bands I discovered there was always something missing – and then I found Sick Of It All. From there I found other hardcore bands but I just assumed they were either punk or metal bands until I met the only other hardcore kid in my local town. He explained everything to do with hardcore and the scene to me and I fell in love…with hardcore not him hahahaha!
R: Ferg, we are ok with it, you could be gay and we would still do this, dont worry, haha. When did you get involve with hardcore scene? How was the scene in your town? Any bands coming from the area we should pay attention to?
F: I first started going to hardcore shows in 2001, I was 15. I went a handful of shows in my local area, but there was no hardcore scene so I always travelled to London for shows. I was obsessed with everything to do with hardcore and tried to get to as many shows as possible which was difficult sometimes, at least until I started driving and from that moment on I was at a lot more shows. I started to become more involved in the scene when my old band Fort Vallance started playing shows in 2009. When the band started we played a lot of shows in Bournemouth which was our local city, but the scene was tiny. Between us, From Which It Came and Into The Dust the scene grew slightly and we organized shows bringing in other hardcore bands from around the country, which was cool while it lasted.
R: You moved back to London few years back, how did you feel coming from small village town to big smoke again? Was there anything particular you really had to get used of?
F: As I said before I was born and raised in Kingston and my parents worked in central London so I spent a lot of time in and around London. Moving from London to a small village was a bigger shock to the system than the other way round. Due to the hardcore scene and my friends I was spending every other weekend in London for years before I moved back so it wasn’t a shock at all.
R: You quickly became involved with the Rucktion guys, what is your role within the legendary label in London?
F: Technically I don’t have a role in Rucktion. I have been friends with some of the Rucktion/LBU guys for years and when my band started playing shows we all became closer. I used to organize weekenders for my band with Rucktion bands just so we could play shows and hang out. I started helping Popi out on the distro here and there, but when I moved to London it became a regular thing. As there are no shows at the moment due to Covid my current ‘role’ is storing half the Rucktion distro in my flat!
R: There you go, you are the storage man from now, haha. How long does it take to unload the whole distro and move it to a show / venue and set it up? I guess it’s bit of half day work haha.
F: Usually Popi will have organized what stuff he wants for the distro the day before a show, so really it’s just a case of loading and unloading the distro from my van or the back of a taxi – there’s simply too much to take it on the tube.
R: I was driving large distro around for one distro folk back in the days in my hometown, hence I asked you and I know it was not fun to load and unload small Fiat Uno with loads of vinyls and cd boxes on the day. My back and car suffered a lot haha.
You became a part of Ready Eye Collective with John, Rich and Louis promoting shows in London area. What is your part in the collective and how the idea came to light?
F: Ready Eye Collective was an idea of John’s, he asked Rich, Louis and myself to be involved for different reasons. He asked me, because I had connections with bands he didn’t know and ultimately he wanted to put on shows with mixed hardcore line ups. Because of my job I can’t be online contacting bands and venues etc., so the boys do most of the organizing of the shows, but we all discuss and agree on all aspects of the shows beforehand. As the boys do all the ‘paperwork’, when it comes to the shows I always work the door.
R: You were in band called Fort Vallance, correct me if I am wrong, it was long time ago. Who played in the band with you and what happened to the band? Are you in any other band now?
F: The original Fort Vallance lineup was; Charlie, Woody, Stevie (kind of) and myself. Not long after we started Big D joined and the bass player position changed constantly throughout the life of the band. Being in that band was some of the best times of my life and I never wanted it to end, but sadly people’s lives changed and people moved on. We didn’t even have a last show. As a lot of people know I have been desperately trying to organize a functioning band ever since Fort V split up. I’ve been in loads of bands since, but none of them have ever made it to the stage. I currently have 2 projects on the go, but who knows what will happen!
R: What do you think about the Brexit and how is it going to impact your show promotion activity? Obviously due to Covid lockdown no shows were taking place, but…we already heard about the working visa for artists coming to UK, that will have impact on door price I guess … what is the discussion among the crew about this?
F: Due to Covid we haven’t been able to book any foreign bands, so truth be told at this moment we don’t know how badly it will affect us. We’ve discussed it a lot but at this stage we don’t really know much more than anyone else.
Brexit is going to affect everybody’s lives in different ways, the one way it will definitely affect everyone in the same way is financially. Bands will need visa’s to play here, UK bands will need visa’s to play in other places so touring will cost more money. I worry that if the bands charge more to book, the promoters will have to charge more on the door. Obviously the Ready Eye Collective will always try and keep our entry prices as cheap as possible because we do this for the scene not to line our pockets. Any Ready Eye profits go back into the kitty so we can afford to book bigger and better shows.
R: What lessons did you learn from your first gig? What was your first big show? Was it the Merauder show? I dont remember now what was your collective first organized gig. How much money you had to invest and did you guys get it back?
F: We learnt lots of lessons after our first show but we had a great time and it was a huge success. I won’t say how much but we all put in enough money to cover the bands that night. We’ve made our money back but as I said before, all money stays in the Ready Eye kitty. Our first big show was the Cold Hard Truth 10 year anniversary show in 2017.
R: How does it work with registration and tax codes? Aren’t you worried that due to the Brexit you will have to run it as registered company?
F: As Brexit happened during Covid, we’ve not yet been able to book any bands from overseas – so to be honest we don’t know what will happen.
R: Who is the most “neurotic” person in your crew? What is the most argued topic during your meetings? Are you having voting system when hard decisions need to be made?
F: I wouldn’t describe any of the boys as neurotic, I think we work well as a team. We all worry, we all overthink, but when the doors open on the night of a show it always works out. When it comes to big decisions and choosing bands we all have a say and sometimes it comes down to voting.
R: What bands would you like to bring to London from overseas or mainland Europe for UK kids?
F: For UK kids or myself? haha. Personally, there are too many bands that I’d like to put on to list, but if I could choose 1 band to put on it would be Violation from California.
R: I remember you as the dude who appeared in many of my pit and stage diving pics. There was no show you wont stage dive right in front of my camera haha. Do you have any of your favorite pic from those shows and what gig was your favorite from the early years?
F: This is a hard question to answer as there have been so many shows and so many photos over the years. The photos that mean the most to me that you have ever taken are the ones you took of Fort Vallance playing our first show in the 12 Bar in 2009.
R: I remember that show and the pics actually very well, haha. How do you relax? Do you have any activity or hobby you prefer on your days off?
F: The thing I’ve been getting really into is graffiti. Art was the only thing I was good at in school and it’s been really nice being creative. I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time in Leake Street, either by myself or with mates. But I spend most of my time chilling out with Hannah.
R: Correct me if I am wrong, but you were straight edge few years back right? What made you break the edge? I remember you wearing straight edge band t-shirt’s but I might be completely wrong in this. I am old and I dont remember things anymore.
F: You’re not the first person to think that, but actually I’ve never been straight edge. When I first started coming to shows I was too young to drink. Then when I started driving to shows, so I couldn’t drink. Added to this I was massively into youth crew and didn’t care that I liked straight edge bands but wasn’t straight edge. I still connected with a lot of the messages in youth crew lyrics.
R: Thank you Ferg for your answers and good luck with your activities, sending love to Hannah and the crew. Keep rocking the boat Mr.