VINCE WHITE interviews

The following is a transcript of a phone interview with Vince White by Maz from ''Slate 'em and hang 'em'' punk fanzine from, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. on 5/4/07

Maz: What was it like? Can you sum it up, quickly Vince, looking back and joining The Clash. The whole experience? It must've been a trip.
Vince: Uhm, well, what can i say Maz? It was a REAL FUCKING TRIP, man, you know, like suddenly being blasted into Outer Space or something ......... but that TRIP for ME anyway, ended up becoming more like ............... you remember at the beginning of the Space Age when they put up those first rockets? Instead of a human BEING in there they put a MONKEY in that capsule, you know, just in case anything went wrong. That ape had no control of the ship though and was really only there just for the SHOW, you know? The SPECTACLE, the PUBLICITY and all that, while in REALITY everything was being manipulated by THE MAN. You know, the MAN behind the scenes. The MAN who sits behind the desk back at GROUND CONTROL. The MAN who pushes buttons on machines and computers and calculates up all the facts and figures. It was Remote Control Rock'n'Roll, Maz!!!! And, well, I hate to say it but I was that monkey pilot. Powerless. My arms and legs strapped into a chair. Electrodes attached to my brain and testicles. Wires dripping out my ears. A fat probe up rammed up my arse. Scared shitless half the time. Whizzing round and round the earth at half the speed of fucking light !!!!
Maz: (LAUGHS) Yeah, but I bet the view must've been amazing from up there, yeah?
Vince: Yeah, yeah and exciting too, but you see that capsule had no manual override, man, so there was nothing I could do. And the MAN down at GROUND CONTROL, well I can only think the cheese must've slipped off his bleeding cracker because he began hitting some strange buttons!!!! The ship had no guiding principle. It spiralled out of control. Re- entry burn up. Maz, I can tell you man, I was lucky to survive.
Maz: But Vince, live, the Clash II were brilliant. I saw you guys in '84. I was a big Mick Jones fan and I hated myself for enjoying it despite myself.
Vince: Yeah, well in the beginning it was really good and all five of us started off rehearsing together and hanging out together like a real band. Having fun. And playing live you're just in the moment and forget about things and it really worked. I was passionate about it and loved the music. But things offstage changed very quickly and got pretty nasty. Reminds me of a lot of girls I've known!!! It's all great in the beginning. They love you 'cause you're a bit different and exciting and it's all fun and games but within no time at all they're already trying to change you, and the situation, you know, into something more respectable. Someone they can bring home to meet their mum. Suddenly there's an agenda and there's no freedom anymore. By that point I'm already looking for a way out.
Maz: So, Vince, what made you write this book. I mean, it's 21 years ago. Why now?'
Vince: I'm skint, mate. Time cures. I didn't want to think about it at all for a long time. The Clash, I mean. After the Clash ship went down I was left stranded. Suddenly alone. Feeling more than a bit angry and betrayed by it all. Especially by Strummer. And very confused. But you see, from the feedback I'm getting these days from the internet people want to know about all that and what happened and I felt it worth my while writing about my experience. I had something to say. So I did.
Maz: (laughs)Do you hate the Clash now, Vince?
Vince: No, not at all. Man, I hate nothing. I feel no ill will towards anybody but at the same time I have to tell the truth. Only the other day i put 'Complete Control' on my turntable. And 'City of the Dead'. It still sends shivers up my spine. It's not just about the Clash either. 1984 was a moment in TIME. I had a unique experience. In my book I just express my experience that's all. Look man, at other times in my life I've ended up in all sorts of shit hole places you really wouldn't want to be. Baghdad, Sudan whatever, lost up the Amazon jungle, Columbia, wherever. I've been in some real out of the way shit life or death situations. None of them were 'pleasant' but they were very real for me you know? Real life. It's the real experiences in life you never forget or regret and you realise later are the most important. That's where the drama is. That's where the story is.
Maz: ' How come you listed the contents of the book like a song? Most of the chapters are Clash song titles too.
Vince: 'OUT OF CONTROL' was actually the title of a song that Joe had written that I think became 'Do it Now'. I don't like to explain too much. It spoils things. The link between each Clash song title and the contents of each chapter of the book is so obvious it really doesn't need explaining. Just read it!
Maz: Now, I have a copy I WILL! Thanks, Vince.
Vince: No problem, dude.

The Last Days of The Clash