An Interview With Alex, Wonk Unit
Last week, Way Out Radio caught up with Daddy Wonk, lead singer of the hilarious, no-money-fun, punk band WONK UNIT. We talked skating, touring, working in postal rooms and much more…
Alex Wonk started out by forming a band in the early 90’s called The Flying Medallions. At this point the punk scene was very underground but the band began emerging in the mainstream and the music press lapped up the chaos of their gigs. “Riots and chaos at every show. But live by the sword, die by the sword…” tells Alex. In 1995, the band suffered the devastating crash of their tour bus whilst in France. MC Mr Stephen suffered critical injuries but later made a full recovery. Bassist Dougie sadly didn’t make it.
Today the band continue to bring their 21st Century Punk music to fans everywhere, now renamed Wonk Unit, with members Alex Wonk, Tommy, Pwos, Benny, Simon and Ed. They are a continually touring band, travelling across the UK, Europe, and embarked on a USA tour in 2015.
In the early 1990’s your original band were called The Flying Medallions. What was that band like and did you release anything?
The Flying Medallions happened in the early 90’s. We were complete nut cases. Every gig was like a mini riot. We didn’t even know the meaning of the words “political correctness” but we would always be at the front of the fight at any anti nazi league, animals rights etc demos. We went for the thrill, the fight. We were dumb and naive and a lot of folk didn’t understand us but we definitely stood for punk rock values. We didn’t write our songs to shock, we just wrote about our world, our way. This was without filters. We released “We Love Everybody and Everything’s Great” on Big Life Records in 1994.
Music, especially singing, releases endorphins. How has music helped you in your life?
I am an alcoholic/addict. I’ve now been sober for 17 years. When I first got on the wagon I poured all the pain, horror and insecurity that you feel into songwriter. You learn from AA that sharing your experiences with likeminded people helps (the ethos of AA). I found that putting my pain into song worked for me. Exercising those demons live was such a release for me. Gigging became my AA.
Where do the dance moves come from?
I’m a prince! Princes learn to dance from a young age!
You’re a fan of Slaves – are you friends with Laurie and Isaac?
Yes. I knew Laurie before Slaves formed. He is a Wonker. When they first formed I was TOTALLY blown away by how perfect they were. The complete package. They had the songs, the look, but most importantly they are just the funniest most beautiful freaks you could ever hope to meet. I love freaks. Isaac is a freak. I saw myself in him and I haven’t met many people like me before. They are the ying and yang. Isaac would be nothing without Laurie though. Laurie ran the Slaves ship whilst Isaac just bumbled along being beautiful hahaha. Yes, I LOVE Slaves. For me personally, the most important thing to happen in music for 2 decades. Fuck all the wannabes that they get lumped in with. These boys have always just done their own thing. Leading not chasing.
What major record label post room did you work in as a teenager and how did you get the job?
I worked in the post room of MCA records (before all the majors merged and it became Universal) at the end of the 80’s. I was lucky enough to experience the glory days of the majors. When there was loads of money and champagne being thrown about. As with most major label/music industry people, I got the job through family. My uncle Rod Cunningham was head of the production department. The majority of folk working in that industry ain’t got a clue what’s going on and don’t actually care about music. It’s just a job to them and the reason that majors labels churn out so much shit. But that’s the music industry throughout. From the labels to the radio stations. It’s all about who you know.
Do you still skate and how long have you been skating? What are your favourite skate spots?
Yup I skate. My skateboard has been my most loyal friend for most of my life. I started in 1984. Wow that’s 32 years!!! As long as I can walk I will skate. I love to skate pools and bowls. I like concrete skateparks. I love the flow.
Wonk Unit was originally a name for a t-shirt company you wanted to start – How did you learn to make t-shirts and do you have a t-shirt company now?
Yeah, t-shirt/skate company. I actually made the first Wonk shirt before I had the band. I design the shirts, I don’t screen them myself. One of my fav things in the world is opening a box of brand new shirts!!! My artwork is very organic. I do it with marker pen and they are pretty much all first attempts. I like to keep the mistakes in. If I can’t capture my vision first shot, I won’t push the design. Just my stupid way. Haha. We sell a lot of Wonk shirts. It’s how we fund our constant touring.
“Wonk Unit” we exclaimed.
What a great name for a band.
For more on WONK UNIT check out their videos below, get along to a gig or their annual WONK FEST. Visit their website for details.
The name Wonk Unit came about like this:-
About 5 years ago,myself and original Wonk axe man Gavin “Mad Dog” Kinch were laying a crazy paving driveway.
It was miserable, cold and wet and then it started snowing on our sorry asses, and I looked over and said;
“Look at us,we’re a right f**king Wonk Unit ain’t we!”