Defiant, the band, formed in 1977 around sisters Fiona and Deirdre Dutton. They were regular customers at The Roxy Club, and inspired by Punk they decided to start their own band. Always original, Defiant song titles included “Throwing Up”, “London Transport” and “Prince Charles”. Defiant have always been heroes of ours, and since starting punkgirldiaries, we’ve wanted to interview Fiona/Pape, and now we have…
We’d like to thank Fiona for talking to us, and as a quick primer, you can read our original post about Defiant HERE.
How did you first get into Punk?
FD – “Punk was always more about attitude than the music, being more open. The friends who got into it were listening to Bowie, T-Rex, Lou Reed and shopping in Kensington Market and the final days of Big Biba – as opposed to school-friends who thought Gilbert O’Sullivan was cute (although these days I appreciate his song writing), and who shopped in Dorothy Perkins.
Looking back to the early 70s we were the girls who were kicking against a lot of sexist attitudes, who believed we could do whatever we wanted. We were more questioning and challenged things more than my friends who weren’t interested. I first noticed an attitude mid-76, a non-acceptance of the status quo, and just being a bit provocative and lairy, which fitted well into Punk. I think I am over analysing a bit, we were young, and having our moment. In the beginning although we would have loved to have lots of Sex/Seditionaries clothes, it was much more about making and customising stuff from charity shops and our parents old clothes. We dressed for ourselves and no one told us how to look. If you look at photos from the early days there is much more variety and lots of people not dressed in any way that could be called Punk”.
Tell us about Defiant…
FD – “Defiant was brilliant. We really had such a laugh, were hopeless as a band apart from Dok, who could actually play, and wrote our one good song “Telephone”. The single wasn’t put out because after we recorded it, we just didn’t have the money, but we were still going. Doc and Alan made picture sleeves and scratched Ha Ha across old records and sent them off to be reviewed. At one point Alan got us signed to a company called Rock Flicks, who leased the old newsreel cinema on Waterloo Station, and gave us the keys. We used to go their to rehearse, the seats had been taken out but there were still functioning toilets and a little staff kitchen. We played quite a few places, we had a residency every Saturday for a month at the Man in the Moon down at the World’s End in Chelsea, we did the mini tour which included Eric’s in Liverpool, as well as Sheffield and York Universities. We played The Roxy on the night Elvis died. We were real Roxy kids, loved the place, and like many vowed never to go back after Andrew and Susan were kicked out. We did go back once to see what it was like and it was horrible, with an undercurrent of violence, really unpleasant, then of course you never turned down a chance to play, so we went that night. During our set someone shouted out “Elvis is dead” and we thought it was a compliment. We all continued in bands for a few years after, Dok had a duo/trio called Self Control which sometimes featured my then boyfriend, and we had a band with saxophone, trumpet, keyboards. Vic Goddard wrote a couple of songs for us and we played quite a bit – Moonlight Club, Notre Dame, Nashville, under various names. I wasn’t someone whose ambition was always to be in a band, I had other things I wanted to do, and it eventually petered out, but obviously I still went to see bands a lot”.
How has Punk affected your life?
FD – “I will always be outspoken, a feminist, interested in the less commercial. I am proud that my daughter shares my values, she played in a band called Actual Crimes and is passionate about fanzines, also about equality, and fairness. I do think that without punk I would always have been a feminist, a socialist, a politically active person, and for many punk really wasn’t about that. For me it was about girls being accepted, standing up for ourselves, for anyone to be able to do things for themselves. For a lot of people who came to punk later, it was about dressing up and being obnoxious without purpose – I don’t remember any spitting until going to see the Lurkers at Watford Town Hall sometime in 1978 and being appalled. I sound a bit po-faced, but really when I look back, all I can really remember is having such a laugh, and I am glad I was there”.
“I forgot to say that Record Collector magazine had our single as the most sought after punk single in the US at one time and the fourth rarest record of all time, which is interesting as it didn’t exist. I’ve actually seen it listed for sale too”.
So there it is, our exclusive interview with Punk Girl Hero Pape – we’d still like to pogo around to some Defiant songs though….maybe next time? Thanks Fiona.