Bringing a Buzz to town

Buzzcocks, play Saturday night at Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Buzzcocks, play Saturday night at Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
Have your say

Catching up with a punk legend, at 9am on the Monday after a big festival was never going to be the easiest task.

But after a few missed calls, Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks was eventually on the other end of the line an hour or so later.

“My heart was in the right place arranging this interview, but last night got a bit later than I expected,” he admitted.

At almost 40 years since they first emerged, as one of the first names to make it from the punk realm, Buzzcocks are ‘on a never-ending tour’, playing to fans around the world and drawing interest from festivals - and not just Blackpool’s punk celebration Rebellion, where they appear next month.

Steve said: “It’s quite a mixed crowd now, maybe two-thirds young people too. But it spans three generations, which gives you a shot in the arm to know that you’re an on-going concern.”

With the passion of the punk movement enduring, they’re looking forward to another Rebellion date.

“It’s become traditional for punks to descend on Blackpool and people have voted for the festival with their feet,” Steve said. “People are dedicated to that kind of music and long may that reign.

“People are passionate at Rebellion. Generally, people go to festivals to walk around in their wellies, but there it’s more specifically about the music, and they travel from all over the world to attend.

“And what better place for a celebration of punk than Blackpool – especially for us, with being from the North.

“The festival brings a real electricity to the town.”

The Buzzcocks - known for hits including Ever Fallen In Love, Harmony In My Head and Everybody’s Happy Nowadays - were formed in Bolton by Pete Shelley, a constant member of the band throughout various personnel changes, and Howard Devoto, in 1976, with the latter only present for a year before Steve came on board, they have true roots in the North West.

And while Steve was brought up in Oldham – taking the obligatory Northerner’s holidays in Blackpool - Rebellion’s even closer to home for Steve now, as his mum has moved to Bispham, making the Fylde a relatively regular haunt.

“It really is a magical place,” he added. “Some say it’s like Las Vegas but without the gambling, but there’s more to it than that because it’s real and certainly attracts all kinds of people.

“It’s always been an exciting town, then when you see it done up now too is great. Some say it’s run down, but there’s something beautiful about it in it’s way.”

Despite Steve’s obvious love of the place, there won’t be much time to let Blackpool cast its spell when Buzzcocks arrive for Rebellion, as it’s not their only show that weekend so they won’t be hanging around.

But the magic of punk has certainly endured, according to Steve.

“I think when all the early punk records came out, in 1976-77, we had to re-think consciously how we listen to music.

“It wasn’t just about being entertained by music, you had to re-think your life with the message from some records. It made you question yourself.

“Music wasn’t just the background, it was direct towards the senses and people related to it touching a nerve, and the realism was something almost relevant to your own life that you could take away with you.

“We dealt with the human condition, not a fantasy world that nobody could get to.

“A Buzzcocks record sounds now like it was made last week, timeless, like all great artists do.

“And we have a catalogue of great songs that people remember, and they engage with it right away at Rebellion.”

* Buzzcocks play the Empress Ballroom, as part of Rebellion Festival, on Saturday, August 8 at 11.50pm, following headliners the Boomtown Rats. Visit for details.