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John Smith aka Ward Philips

Gender: Male
Country: United Kingdom
ran Interchange Magazine and Interchange Label
Info from Siderealpress run by John Smith
I was born and raised in what was (and still is) regarded as a very middle-class area of southwest London, Kingston Upon Thames.  ??    I was shy and bookish as a child which, together with my 'nice' accent, marked me out at school and resulted in me being bullied for a number of years. As a result of this I came to the conclusion that anything my fellow pupils liked or did was something that I did not want to be a part of, sport being the primary example. ? ?    Our house was not a very musical house. Despite my having cello lessons for a number of years, I heard very little music. We had a family record player but only about a dozen records, all rarely played. Of them, I only specifically remember Ken Dodd's Tears though we also owned a number of classical, mainly opera, recordings. The family radio was tuned to Radio 4.  ??    Of course as a mid teen I began to buy my own music and eventually owned my own record player, probably to my parents' minor annoyance. I wish I could say my early purchases were 'cool' in some way but they were mainly ‘Top of the Pops’ chart singles by, for example, Abba, Earth Wind and Fire, and Chic. I do not even remember all the furore surrounding Punk when it exploded in 1976, but in any case, our affluent neighbourhood was relatively untouched by the phenomenon. Of the two ‘punks’ at our school, one was the son of a local Tory councillor. Enough said! In any case I didn’t care for punk at all, a noisy racket poorly played but did very much approve of the d.i.y. ethos.   ??    After I had somehow discovered the John Peel show on Radio 1 my record buying began to change, though it was still informed by mainstream culture, The Undertones, the Buzzcocks, The Police and Human League. But I had also begun to read the music press, Sounds especially, and I think it was an article in that paper on the ‘new wave’ of electronic music that pointed me towards bands like Kraftwerk and Throbbing Gristle, and I began to seek out every band mentioned in the piece.   ??    There was an enlightened record stall at our local market that would buy discs for me from Rough Trade (such as Soft Cell's Mutant Moments ep), but Kingston also had a Beggars Banquet record shop where I bought that great rarity of the time, Gary Numan's Are Friends Electric as a picture disc, B.B. being Numan's label. They also had a small  selection of second-hand records and it is there I bought Joy Division's Closer and T.G.'s Second Annual Report, the latter the re-issue on Fetish.   ??    I think I can safely say that Second Annual Report changed my life as it opened me up to a counterculture beyond music, something I only had inklings of before then and with which I immediately identified. I got myself on the Industrial Records mailing list and began to immerse myself in all the tropes of Burroughs, Manson, Crowley etc. The great bonus of all this was that it was unlike anything my school 'mates' knew anything about and my terrible shyness and insecurity was augmented by a (much worse) elitist snobbery.  ??    Other than the (relatively infrequent) pieces in the mainstream music press, though Stevo's 'futurist music chart' in Sounds was a semi-regular, the only other way to learn what was going on was to read fanzines and then write to the labels concerned. I bought them by the armful whenever I went to concerts in London; gigs at the Lyceum Ballroom were an especially good source because the fanzine stall was usually run by Better Badges, who were major printers and distributors of them.  ??    I became something of a collector of 'weird stuff', but there were only a few 'industrial' related fanzines, of  which Flowmotion in Leeds and Grok in Bristol were my favourites. It was in order to 'fill the gap' that inspired Interchange.