Stiff Little Fingers interview

We recently sat down with drummer Steve Grantley of Stiff Little Fingers for a chat ahead of their upcoming gig at Blackpool’s Rebellion Festival. The band are punk legends and have been touring recently as part of their 40th anniversary tour, so it’s safe to say that we were very excited to speak to them!

You’ve recently embarked on your 40th anniversary tour, there must be a great sense of pride at this feat of longevity and you’re still managing to sell out venues.

SLF fans are like a family and it’s an honour and privilege to play with Jake, Ian and Ali for them.

Stiff Little Fingers obviously have a loyal fan base. A future hard to comprehend back in 1977?

I wasn’t in the band in 77. I joined in 97 but I know Jake and Ali are still astounded at the longevity of SLF.

Along with many others I believe SLF are a massively underrated band, you’ve been touring intensively over the past few years and I always come to see you whenever you visit Yorkshire. I remember seeing you at a fairly small venue in Wakefield, as a fan I enjoyed the intimacy of that gig. Is there any preference for the band when it comes to the venue, do you have a favourite?

The Barrowland in Glasgow is always a great venue. We played Hyde Park in 2017 and it was a great gig but the audience felt too far away and there was a feeling of detachment. Personally I like The Forum in London and smaller, more intimate, in ya face gigs.

SLF recently played in America alongside some big name punk bands such as Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Offspring etc. What do the band think to the American style of punk, sometimes referred to as skate punk. Did SLF associate with these bands?

We all got along – we had time together. It’s all music with no judgement.

That being said, it must be gratifying to know that you have been an influence to these bands, amongst many others. I think, if I remember rightly, reading that Greg Graffin (of Bad Religion) once ascribed one of his most memorable moments on stage being when he sang to a cover of an SLF song, I think it might have been Suspect Device. 

Yes I think that’s correct. He and the band were very complimentary.

As influences go it is clear that “The Clash” were a big one for SLF. Some of the covers that you’ve played have been by Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, are there any other bands/artistes that have held sway with SLF?

Dr Feelgood are a big influence, as is Rory Gallagher. . .  Also Abba!

Are there any bands currently that might provide direction for SLF? Do you go and see live acts as a punter? Any recommendations?

I think SLF have a solid direction now. It’s all about good songs. We don’t go to many gigs these days as we are on the road a lot ourselves. Jake goes to Riot Fest in Chicago and I saw Sleaford Mods recently who are worth checking out.

SLF have always written songs with a strong meaning – often a political viewpoint or a social statement. Do you ever do a song just for the sake of it, or are they driven by the making of a statement?

There’s always a meaning to SLF songs. I believe that’s why the band means so much to people. Nothing is throwaway.

Through the years having gone through different sounds across the albums do you notice that the audience changes over time, or are you still recognising the same old faces on tour?

There are regular faces every year and all the more power to them but there’s a huge new younger crowd. It’s cross-generational.

Finally (and hopefully), are there any plans for any new material and

more tour dates?

There are songs being written and we do plan to record something new.

I’m grateful to SLF for their response. See you in the mosh pit, thanks!

Thank you. See you up there.

By Joe Todd