In Conversation with Robert R. Williams of Siege

We recently had the opportunity to interview Robert R. Williams, drummer for proto-prind/pioneering hardcore band Siege. Arguably one of the most influential bands of the 1980s/ early 90s.

We touch upon their legacy & Williams perception on the political crisis in the west. Although he avoids any direct political affiliation he reaffirms a much needed but lost discourse in musical circles. The need for compassion and unity, with the arts as a driving motivator for that.

Although Siege may have called it a day, after an impressive history, Williams still dedicates himself to the uniting and the transgressive effects of music. Read on to see what happened when our guy JJ caught up with Robert at Siege’s last ever show in London.

How are you finding London?

 I love it, I don’t want to leave…

What we’re curious about is that you’ve only had one EP, but such an extensive legacy.

Well that’s not entirely true, we had one cassette which we self-released in 84 or so which was tape traded, the Drop Dead Cassette. Then three comp tracks, Cleanse The Bacteria, Puss Head the artist put out this compilation LP, highly sought after by collectors. Those tracks were collected later, years later on an LP on Deep 6. The Drop Dead tracks plus the comp tracks. When we looked at the original reels, we found the unreleased track. So we have bonus tracks from 1984 which is on the most recent edition.

It was the nine-track release wasn’t it? 

We played one of those songs tonight. We played the whole catalogue tonight. We also have a seven-inch which is just a rare demo which is going out of print which was released in ’91 when we had a different singer.

This is the first time I’ve seen you play in the UK and it’s your last ever show. Considering all of your releases came out in the 1980’s and early 90’s, how have you found it touring with that material? Have you toured often? 

Well, we played two sold-out shows in Leed’s earlier this year, but we had to come to London. Of course. It’s been incredibly timely and relevant, I’ve played ‘Break Down The Walls’ in many major cities around Europe and the U.S. It’s been a magnificent privilege to be able to send a message at this time.


Yes, of course, because of what is happening now with Donald Trump. 

A message of non-conformism.

Which is what grindcore is all about. You guys, Siege, Repulsion and Napalm Death basically started grindcore. What do you find of the current scene now and how it’s progressed? Being massive influences of it over such power-violence bands as Drop Dead…

I love the new bands that are out now.

Who would you recommend?

You must have heard Die Choking by now, they have an impressive display of drumming.


Which you can appreciate, as a drummer.

And they write songs. Then there is a punk/hardcore band that we’ve played with a bunch of times with; a dear friend of mine called Fuck You Pay Me. I still listen to Brutal Truth. And when there are bands like this, Die Choking, still going, then the genre is not only alive but pushing forward.

My favourite grindcore band is Pig Destroyer because of their lyrics.  Their lyrics really connected with me personally as a kid, I’m an anarchist now and its grindcore which got me into that. 

I recommend a book for you, its called Germinal by Zola. There’s a character in it like you, he runs a bar room. You’ll recognize the character.


You’ll have to write it down for me.

Germinal, by Zola. It’s about coal miner’s strikes.

We’re coming up to five minutes so one last question. With authoritarianism coming back to the west. Do you think there is going to become a resurgence of grindcore or left libertarians? 

I don’t think that our art should come from the opportunity of someone else’s misfortune. So I see a rise in the necessity for compassion, whether you’re a musician or not. We’re awakening to that. But it could be any art form, sculpting, the visual arts, there’s now a responsibility to stand and to create art of compassion with a positive message.

Since this is your last ever show, what’s next for you?

I live an arts community down in Cape Cod, Massachusetts down on the beach, so I intend to return to songwriting. I’ve recorded an anti-war opera which is a grindcore/punk opera. It’s coming on Deep 6 with a bunch of different singers. One of whom is the singer from Fistula

A grindcore/punk opera? What’s the name?

It’s called So Be It. An anti-war opera, it has two female vocalists in the group. Very Crass-like. That’s my next project. That’s my next step and my response in recognizing the necessity, now, do something with a positive message and uplifting meaning to it.


Words, Questions, and Photo: Joe-Julian Naitsri

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