Lightyear: Ska-punk rockers on re-reuniting and *that* Ice-T incident

In the late 90s/early 00s, influential ska-punk heavyweights Lightyear were cementing their place as one of the UK’s most energetic and mischievous musical outfits, producing two now-classic records and playing thousands of sweaty-as-hell shows before splitting. Two decades later and after numerous reunion tours, they’re back again – and this time it’s for good.

Ahead of their show at Corp this month, we interrupted frontman Chas Palmer-Williams on his lunch for a quick chat about reforming, the punk scene today and a run-in between Ice-T and Bessie the Panto Horse.

Eh up Chas, thanks for chatting with us. Good to be back in the game?
Yeah, it’s real good. It’s different because we’ve all got kids and stuff now, but yeah, it’s good to be back in the van with everyone else, writing new stuff and performing. Hopefully the music’s matured with us.

I imagine it’s a bit different to life on the road as a band in the 90s?
Well, back then we were doing it “for a living”, staying at our parents’ house or sleeping on sofas. We couldn’t even afford to buy clothes or food. When we were that age we got no sleep and just drank all the time, whereas now we have to look after ourselves a little bit more. It’s still really fun though.

Why is now the right time to come back?
It’s funny actually; we split-up because we wanted to stay friends and didn’t want a business to ruin our friendship. However, the irony was that we stopped seeing each other because of the split. So we played a few shows just to hang out really, but we also wanted to write new music. I was singing songs about how I felt when I was 20, but I’m not 20 anymore, so it was out of context. I can’t relate to these 40-year-old pop-punk artists who sing about hating their parents on their latest album. What a load of bollocks.

There’s also a documentary, ‘The Music Doesn’t Belong To You’, which you’re currently working on. Tell us a bit about that?
When we were part of the 90s punk scene, people were putting on shows all over the country and it felt like a real movement. But it didn’t really get the coverage on a national scale in the way that indie or Britpop did. We were very lucky to be involved, we were just kids, we shouldn’t have even been allowed in the venues! That’s what’s it’s all about anyway, telling that story.

I feel like I have to ask you about the Ice-T/ panto horse incident.
Yeah, that was interesting. I think it was at Leeds Fest, and we have this pantomime horse that we take to shows with us, which we have to take for a walk – otherwise it’s just cruel, you know? We were walking the horse and she ended up wandering into Ice-T’s dressing room. He basically stared at us not really knowing what to do and his massive bodyguard just said “Ice-T is not impressed”. We then invaded his set at Reading, along with the pantomime horse, and got in a bit of trouble for that.

And finally, what can we expect from your show at Corp?
Well, one thing I hate is when bands repeat the same format in every show. With Lightyear shows, every single one is different; there’ll be the horse and the morris dancing as standard, but you’re paying to see something live and you know we’re putting in 100% effort every night to create something different. hope that comes across in Sheffield.

Lightyear play Corporation April 19, tickets are £12 here. 

Words: Nathan Warby 

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