Theatre of Hate’s early output enjoyed a fierce following, but then the band split up in 1983 and remained so for the better part of the next 20-plus years. Its members got married, had children, and moved on. There were occasional rumblings of maybe getting the band back together—someday. “We try and keep it a tight ship and not stray too much from the path,” Brandon said of how the new lineup functions. “At the end of the day, it’s gotta be fun—and it is. We’re enjoying it and enjoying playing the music. That sounds very naive in today’s industry, but we do.”
Brandon insists that the current iteration of Theatre of Hate isn’t a nostalgia act. The new music is as tough as it used to be, he said, but fans will also hear the old tunes that endeared them to the English punk scene in the first place. “It has a lot of heart, even if it’s entertaining,” Brandon said of the newer material. “That’s probably why we decided to do it again.”
When asked if the punk scene is a younger person’s game, Brandon hedges, responding only that’s “possibly right. But I would also say, as an ‘adult,’ if you play music you feel is relevant, and you still feel it’s relevant, play it.”
At the same time, he acknowledges that he has to do things a bit differently. Brandon was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, and in general says he has to look after himself better than he once did. “When you’re much younger, you have unlimited energy, [but] now you have to conserve it. You can’t just burn it out in a week,” he said. “You gotta take care of yourself more.”
By the same token, Brandon says that he would advise young, up-and-coming musicians to play the 21st century game—meaning looking after their social media presence and keeping a closer eye on the rights to their own material.
“I would advise them to talk a brace of lawyers that actually work for them as opposed to the various companies,” he said, adding, “I’d [also] tell them enjoy it. Enjoy your time on the planet.”
At the same time, Brandon says he keeps his ears to the ground, always listening for the next big thing in the punk world. “Nirvana was probably the last [act] who took the world by storm,” he said. “But you always hope that someone will come along and blow everyone’s minds”, he added.
Theatre of Hate’s current outing is a five-week affair, but considering its brevity, Brandon still calls it a “full-on tour,” and describes the schedule the band is keeping on this current odyssey as rather demanding. “I do a bit of exercise, get the heart rate going [and] vocal warmups,” he said of his pre-show routine. “A bit of humming is always recommended.”
Brandon says that the reception to the new album Kinshi has been positive, both from Theatre of Hate’s old-guard fans and from the critics. He maintains that he and his current bandmates are incredibly happy that their music has continued to reach fans both grandfathered in as well as the newer generations.
“I didn’t know if people would go for [the new material] after all this time, but they have, and we’re incredibly grateful for that,” he said.
Regardless if they make new fans or not, Brandon and Theatre of Hate will soldier on as long as they can. “I’ve got a titanium valve in my chest,” Brandon chuckled, adding the artificial heart valve is “guaranteed to last 120 years.”