An interview with Children on Stun

...we had an attitude and knew how to write great pop tunes...

Formed in Hastings, 1991, the ever-cheeky Children on Stun quickly rose to prominence by virtue of the fact they were the only Goth band, ever, to crack a smile. The fact that their live shows were a riotous frenzy of filth, fun and fury, with perhaps the odd-inflatable or ten thrown in, probably helped as well. A flurry of self-released demos soon followed, that soon saw the band signed; first to American label Cleopatra, and then to Swedish label M&A Musicart. Success wasn’t without its hiccups, and just seven short years later, the band imploded following a final gig at Camden’s Underworld, a momentous event that would be captured for posterity on the ‘Seven Year Itch’ live album. Earlier this year, word emerged from darkest Sussex, of ‘Celebration’, a one-off event to be held in London, on Friday 15th May, that would see guitarist Simon Manning, vocalist Neil Ash and bassist Kyle Whipp sharing the stage once more. Legendary times indeed, and FractureZine were bold enough to track down their elusive (we say that, we really found him by searching on Facebook) guitarist for a few words…

Hi Simon, what have you been up to since Stun's last gig?

Since the last Stun gig I’ve personally gone through a nervous breakdown. I then formed the band Spares which released three albums and played a few times at the Whitby Goth festival. I also joined a band with ex-stun guitarist Pete (Finnemore) called Grooving In Green. We toured Europe and the UK, and also released a couple of albums and singles. I then lived in Sweden for six months and played with Vendemmian on bass, as well as playing live with an electronic band called Day In A Decade. There’s also been the day to day stuff, as well as getting married.

What prompted this reformation? And was it always going to be yourself, Neil and Kyle, or was Pete ever in the frame to return for the show?

Well I did a post on Facebook last September about a bucket list and what I’d like to do. One of them was reforming the Stun with myself, Neil and Kyle. Pete was never in the frame to be honest as we’ve all lost contact, while I’m still friends with the other guys. The feedback was impressive so the guys said yes to the reformation.

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals are going good. It’s amazing how much we all remember after 17 years of not performing together. We have a set of 15 songs, and all but two of them are sounding really good, we get together a couple of times a week and rock out.

How have you guys been getting on post-Stun? Obviously Neil and Kyle play together (oo-er) in The Stripper Project, but you all seem to not hate each other, thankfully...

We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but let’s just say that there’s still some bad blood boiling over with various people and issues.

Describe your bandmates in five words or less, no swears allowed.

Kyle’s a family man, Neil is eccentric and driven, Pete is angry but determined, and myself, I’m slightly crazed.

What are your memories of the last Stun gig? Any songs that you wished you had played?

I don’t really have any memories of the last Stun gig as I was ill at the time, but I do remember it being a very sad occasion for us all. I think the set at the time was one we had been playing and included old and new tracks and faves from the past.

What are your thoughts regarding the final months of all things Children on Stun? It seemed that things within the band became somewhat... chaotic, if that's a fair assertion?

I think things generally fell apart both musically and friendship wise I wasn’t in a good place mentally and the other guys had shit going on in their lives as well, after seven years of constant touring and releasing records, socialising and the lifestyle, something had to give and that was the Stun.

Any regrets?

Yes there is. We had a fourth album written and a record deal signed with Resurrection Records, the next step was almost there for us but it would have been different musically, which meant we may have lost a lot of the Goth following but in the big picture made bigger strides in the music industry.

I know you previously gave away a load of the old demo tracks as free downloads, are there any plans to this again, or to re-issue the long out of print releases?

Probably not, no. Quite a few of the tracks can be found on YouTube and some of the CD releases can still be purchased through various online stores. We have talked about releasing a re-recording of a track we wrote toward the end of the Stun, but I suppose we will have to see if that happens in the future.

How do you view the changes within the UK alterna-scene and the music industry in general, from back in the day to now?

Well obviously it’s a lot easier with the world web and e-mails etc to arrange and promote yourselves, all we had was the phone and fanzines to get our name about and to arrange tours, so i think bands have it a lot easier nowadays, but that’s a good thing in my eyes. Alternative scene wise the only band I really admire is a band called The Last Cry, otherwise it’s still retro bands like The Mission and The Neff for me to see live.

Why do you think Stun endure to this day and how do you think the band would fare had they emerged in this digital age rather than the dark, pre-internet times?

I think because we were different, we had an attitude and knew how to write great pop tunes in the alternative scene. Also we had no egos and loved our support and the fans we gained over the years, especially in the UK. Digital-wise I think the band's music would obviously been herd by many more worldwide than back in the virtual dark ages.

Children on Stun were embraced very quickly by the UK and global Goth community - Did this help or hinder the band, and how vital was (underground UK magazine) Lowlife to the success of Children On Stun?

Lowlife was run by a couple of dear friends one of which unfortunately died, and the other who still lives locally and has been involved with artwork while i was in Grooving in Green. No, I don’t think our early success hindered the band, it just made us want to be better, and to write good songs and perform mainly chaotic gigs.

What does Children on Stun mean to you?

Well I can’t speak for the others but Goth really we started in 1991, and all grew up with the classic bands and just wanted to play music and sell some cassettes back in those days. Although we always had fun, we were actually very serious about the music side of things.

And what are each of your favourite Children on Stun war stories?

Well my favourite story is one of playing Oslo in Norway back in 1995. We had a free bar, which bearing in mind back then a pint was about £7, which we drunk dry, Neil was pissed walking around outside in the city centre, Kyle was on the floor drunk with a man dressed up as a monk trying to sort him out. Our roadie was trying some moves on a Norwegian girl and our record label boss, Andreas, came across to me and asked if I could sort it all out, as it was getting out of hand. I did of, course, and we played in Sweden the following day be it with sore heads.

After Celebration, will this be the end for Children On Stun, or will there be another gig 15/20 years down the line?

Well personally, and its only from me this answer, after all the work we have put into this reformation, I would like us to see if we could play at least once a year or maybe just a couple more times. Mind you, if it all ended after this show then I think that it would also lay some ghosts to rest for us all.

Written by Ian Faith, 2015-04-10