My name’s John Stapleton. I was born in London, I moved down to Bristol at the end of 1978 to go to College and it seemed like a pretty exciting place and I’m still here.

When I moved to Bristol was very much into going to see live music, it was just obviously just at the end of the punk era, obviously London I used to go and see a lot of bands, like The Jam and The Only Ones and The Clash and then when I moved to Bristol I started going to gigs here. Also started going to club nights a little bit later I suppose; initially I was going to see bands – I remember seeing things like the Human League at the Avon Gorge, upstairs at the Student Union with a band called the Art Objects supporting, who I later joined when they became the Blue Aeroplanes. And then I think going to the Dug Out probably about 1980 I think and I moved into a flat on Richmond Terrace, which was just round the corner from the Dug Out really, and I used to used to treat it as my local and go down there Friday and Saturday nights and probably Wednesday and Thursday nights as well.

In the Blue Aeroplanes I played records, which was um not a particularly usual thing at the time. The Aeroplanes had one member who played records, tapes and sound effects, and another member who was a full-time dancer, which I suppose was a bit strange, really, but it seemed to work in the context of the band.

And it was good time; I mean I was in the band for about five years I think. Did some good tours of Europe, played a lot around this country and then I managed to get fed up with it having had enough of sitting in the back of the transit van and driving up to Leeds, coming back at six in the morning and left foolishly just before they got the tour with REM, signed a major deal and went off to California to record their next album. But hey!

Ever since I was at school I collected records and through the sort of punk era and stuff I was buying all the punk records and also I was going back, there was so much stuff in charity shops, junk shops, and I’d buy things, I had loads of sixties soul records, sixties mod records; there was loads of fifties stuff around at the time there were really good bands in London that played sort of rock and roll. So I’d buy all those things whenever I found it. And I used to go to parties as a teenager and turn up with a bag of singles, of course those were the days before anyone DJd at parties and there’d just be a record player in the corner, and I’d instantly go over, take it over and make a complete pain of myself all night. And this used to carry on and eventually you know we’d pack parties whatever…

And when I moved down to Bristol I carried on buying records incessantly from great places like um Jeff Nichol’s shop on Cotham Hill, which is long gone now; used to be an absolute treasure trove… Tony’s Records up in Clifton Village… Apostrophe in St Nicholas Market, a bit later on… so it was a sort of really good record shops. And then I used to um, as I say I used to do parties, and then I did a benefit gig for a friend of mine, or rather a friend of a friend who’d just been prosecuted for defacing the Ann Summer’s shop in Broadmead by painting a feminist slogan on it and she had a stiff fine to pay, so I did a benefit gig for her, DJ’ing at erm the Western Star Domino Club and then someone asked me if I would DJ there again so I started DJing there, and someone came down and saw me and said oh I’m just starting a night up would you like to come and DJ at it? Which is where I met up with Ian Dark originally and form there we Dj’d at that night and carried on from there really. I remember going to see the Wild Bunch at the Dug Out club and hearing them cutting up records and doubling records, overlaying records. I think the first Hip Hop record I really became aware of was Adventures of the Grand Master Flash on the wheels of steel which I heard on the John Peel show I thought I gotta get this so I tracked it down, it was on import and cost a fiver, which was outrageous amount of money at that time. And then going to see the Wild Bunch play a bit later and hearing them play and thinking oh actually they are doing the same thing and I started buying Hip Hop records from there on. I started Djing at the Moon club between bands a lot in those days you could come along and DJ between bands. I was playing a lot of Hip Hop and also a lot of the original records that the Hip Hop records sampled which I had. There was one night that the band didn’t turn up, it was packed but I played and at the end of the night the manager sayed “Oh thanks for doing that, here’s an extra fiver” well I thought hang on a minuet, there are 300 people here it’s packed. I could do this myself, so I talked another of the Dj’s there…a guy called Manfred and we got together with another guy called Steven Earl and we set up a club night by hiring out the Rummer in St Nicholas market. We publicised it, loads of people came along and then we realised that was the sensible thing to do and we started promoting a night called DefCon. It lasted about a year at the Rummer I think. It came to the Christmas party and we got a phone call saying I’m sorry we’ve had a flood and you can’t do your night tonight and we couldn’t work out what to do and then Steven phoned up the Thekla which at the time was a theatre. From there we did the Thekla and the first ever club night in there and we did that for about four of five years. It was really good times, we never made any money out of it but had some very good parties. It’s a weird one really, because for me and a lot of people who have been involved in this it hasn’t really stopped. For me I haven’t stopped, I’ve been promoting nights, collecting records and Djing. In some ways I’m doing the same as I did then. I suppose club music for a lot of people is a phase in their life that they do, then they settle down and do other things. But for many people in Bristol certainly that hasn’t been the case because we still do it, maybe not doing exactly the same thing but obviously look at people that have become pop stars, studio musicians and Dj’s, still music fanatics really. There seems to be a large proportion of that in Bristol, I don’t know if Bristol’s been a particularly fertile breeding ground there is still so much vibrant music coming out of Bristol. Obviously the whole Dub Step thing and the Drum and Bass thing over the last ten years. There has been so much vibrant music come out of Bristol in the past and still is. Particularly in the realms of club music I think it would be really interesting to look in another ten years or twenty years and see what is happening in Bristol and trace the threads and roots of what’s happening, because there is always a thread you can trace from the start to the end.