The Future of Punk: Heavy Drapes Interview

Has punk lost its energy and direction after 40 years?
Has it become a formula?
Can you combine influences as diverse as Crass, the Damned, Hanoi Rocks and Morrissey?

The new Scottish rockers, Heavy Drapes, combine a punky energy and style with a brash attitude and songs that pack a mighty punch. Live, as I watched them in front of a large crowd from the punk community in Blackpool, I was moved by their great songs, great sound and absolute commitment. I wanted to know more about them, and the band’s singer, De, was decent enough to answer some questions from me. I was impressed with his honesty. He wasn’t trying to be a ‘spokesman for a generation’, he was just trying to make music for his mates. Music with integrity and fire and passion. No compromises. No rock and roll fantasy. And that’s refreshing in 2017.

Michael: What are Heavy Drapes trying to achieve?

De: Short term, to write a set of songs that make people sit up and take notice. To record those songs and deliver an album which is viewed as something special. That’s where we are at the moment, playing the songs live to the people who want to hear them and then recording them.
We’ve achieved all the stuff needed to get us to this point, like grabbing people’s attention by being bloody good at what we do, shouting about it, reminding people that rock music doesn’t need to be dull, it can be dangerous, glamorous and fun.

Long term, as above with some cash behind us and on an international level.

It’s all about the music, nothing will be achieved with a shit album.
What other front-men/women have inspired you?
Very few to be honest. Iggy, Rotten and I’m struggling after that. There’s a number I’m interested in coz they deliver good chat, like Morrisey, Liam Gallagher, Ian Brown. They talk about stuff I can relate to.
I wanted to be a front-man because learning an instrument wasn’t for me but it was an attractive outlet to express myself.

What career highlights so far are you happiest with?

De: That changes week on week. Right now, it’s the success of the Rebellion show, the actual gig and the mountain of good stuff which has come on the back of it. To go from opening for 999 in front of 80 people (which was a great gig) to pulling over 2000 in the Empress Ballroom, all in 18 months with only a 4 track EP under our belt, is astonishing. How did that happen?

Punk was about style and politics as well as music…has style always been important to you personally?

Yes, more so than the politics. I was only a boy when punk grabbed me, it was the visual aspect mixed with high energy rock that got me hooked. Yeah, I was much more interested in a nice pair of trousers than I was with what ‘Anarchy’ actually meant. That wasn’t any different from my mates. We got into punk coz the bands poked fun at the stuff our big brothers liked. We loved the Damned too, the first album. The Clash were never big round my way. No one sounded as dangerous as Sex Pistols or the Damned; I wasn’t aware of Iggy & the Stooges until later.
All said and done. I got well into a bit of Crass; they nailed it visually and musically for me on the Stations of the Cross album.

 

When did you start going to gigs…..what gigs stand out for you?

Gigs in my early teens happened but when you don’t have your own cash, you need to be choosey. Possibly the most painful moments for me as a teenager were the times I didn’t have the cash for a show or being too young to get in.
The first time seeing the Damned was pretty exciting. It was absolutely believable to me that Vanian could jump off stage and suck my blood. They looked like a bunch of nutters, it was really appealing. These nutters delivered a perfect first album.

Brigandage, Boys Wonder, Sid Presley Experience, Hanoi Rocks, they’re all in my head at the moment, so they must be special. Public Image Limited the first time they toured; buzzing I was. And Oasis back in 1995 when they played Irvine Beach in a circus tent, there was something special happening, you could feel it.

Sex Pistols 1996 Glasgow, they looked and sounded like a big, fuck off rock band. Sex Pistols again at Crystal Palace, Birmingham, Brixton, Loch Lomond and Hammersmith. I’m a sucker for the big tunes.

5 favourite singles

Easy and without hesitation. Anarchy In The UK, God Save The Queen, Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols), Problem Child (The Damned), Sheena Is A Punk Rocker (Ramones).

5 favourite albums

I only have 3 albums where every single track gives me goosebumps; Never Mind The Bollocks, Damned Damned Damned and [Iggy and the Stooges] Raw Power.
The other 2 would have to be, ummmmm! Ramones 1st and Stooges/Fun House.

Why has punk remained so vital to people?

I don’t have the answer to that. The punk that’s out there at the moment isn’t vital to me, I’d rather listen to nothing. We formed Heavy Drapes to give our mates a band to come and see coz they were moaning about everything being a bit dull. The more shows we did, the more people were telling us the same thing. We’re 4 guys in a rock band who like a bit of early punk rock and we’re stirring things up because we’ve taken the time to think about what we’re actually doing. It’s vital to the people who like us that we do well and don’t self-destruct, they’ve bought into us but that’s not a punk thing, that’s a music thing. Nope, lost with that one.

How are you carrying on the punk ‘tradition’?

By stealing the bits we like and moving forward. I’ve never thought of it as tradition, I just think if you’re going to use bits and pieces from the past to create something fresh then why not the good bits? I’m not going to be inspired by Rancid, then try and sneak a beard into punk. I’d rather have the awareness to know that Stiv Bators with a beard would have been laughed at. It’s like, punk has become so far removed from what it was. It’s like the hippies have taken over. We exist to show that it doesn’t need to be like that, it can have a bit of style and swagger.

So there you have it. Heavy Drapes, a new band with roots in punk. With songs full of sinew and muscle, blood and guts. And if their roots are in punk, they are not just wallowing in nostalgia, looking at the punk past, in fact, they may be the future of punk.

Even better, they have just enlisted Paul Research. Many of remember the brilliant but short-lived band, Scars. In my opinion, Paul was one of the best of the post-punk guitar players, with a distinctive sound, full of electricity and imagination. Scars played a diverse, daring style of New Pop and played a brilliant set in the Dublin’s Project Arts Centre with The Atrix in 1981. A gig that lives in the memory.

Michael

Rebellion 2017 – Day 2

Before every trip to Blackpool I sit down, pore through the lineup and pick out the must see and the nice to see. I have a problem today. 34 bands are on the list. That may not have been an issue for 18 year old self but it is a problem. It will sort itself out over the 13 hours.

The way I see it is that I’m a sponge and rebellion is my education. I may never see some of these bands again, we may never be in the same country together so I want to make the most of it. Let’s go for 34

Poly-esters were new to me. Playing in the huge empress ballroom, home to Darts, they engaged and rocked the lunchtime crowd.

I’d been looking forward to seeing Petrol Girls. There’s a scene of bands out there that have wiped gender breakdown away. Of course it doesn’t matter what gender you are playing in a band but Petrol Girls are screaming out about misogyny and sexism and their toe tapping noise is a glorious soundtrack to that manifesto. Petrol Girls are top of the pile throwing away the punk stereotype and ready to challenge you if you’re too comfortable.

Matilda’s Scoundrels from Hastings have that folky punk sing along feel. You want to be in their gang. Im struck by the fact that they seem to be the first band not selling merchandise as the 6 piece take over the stage.

I guess the real mackenzies are a Canadian version of Matilda’s Scoundrels, it seems bizarre to me but Canadians in kilts singing about drinking and playing bagpipes is something I’ve missed out on. For years though I ignored drop kick Murphy’s and am now a convert so maybe there’s hope for me for the real mckenzies. To be honest I hope not

Interrobang are taking music and adding some theatre, trying to unsettle the crowd but playing angular music. It’s not in your face but they are looking to reach into your heart. Dunstan sings like he is starting in Chumbawamba once more and he is still angry after all these years and will never calm down. We need bands like interrobang telling us they as mad as hell.

I’ve been communicating with Doug from flies on you in various guises over 30 years it all started when he was bass player in nerve rack and talking about playing in ireland. That never happened and decades got lost. Now he is on the “new” band stage with flies on you who have two great albums out. Doug has dropped the bass but the acerbic sound remains and it’s a fall-esque sound, well starts with the fall and nerve rack and mixes a whole lot more in. Great to see them on stage.

The featherz brought some glam to the day, at least for the three songs I caught. Nice change to the wall of noise on offer elsewhere.

Dave dictor tempted us last night with acoustic versions but tonight was the turn of the powerful MDC, more relevant than ever.

I missed the FU’s when I started listening to American Hardcore. Boston punks exploded on the stage tonight. Even treating us to some straw dogs sings which is what some of the FU”s became for a while.

Subhumans never change, even if some of the personnel do. They are still as good as they were, and playing many of the songs they played in, the youth expression Centre in an early 1980s dublin. These are another necessary feature of Blackpool. Again more relevant now as our political structure becomes more similar to the 80s.

Same with DOA, Canadian punks screamed for change in the 80s. Lead singer Joey keithley ran for office. They wanted a better future. They got a different one, better in many ways but the question remains was it worth it? This three piece were are as fast and powerful as anything else today with some tunes there screaming out

 

Attila The Stockbroker is on great form. Not just politics but emotions too. It must be so frustrating for any artist with all talking going on in the background in the acoustic room as people settle in for a drink and a chat. Attila defied them and told us all about the band we should form called “winter vomiting bug” which was dedicated to the band sick on the bus. He gave some newer poems which detail how working class people are still second class citizens despite all the years of words

I never saw or listened to Frank Carter before except when he was in gallows who I didn’t enjoy that much. At one stage he got a circle pit going right round the hall and just like the junior b hurlers they ran and ran badly in that circle

It’s been an interesting festival as the politics of today has lead to a lot more statements from bands on stage. If we can’t talk about what’s going on what can we talk about?, and bands grasped that. They have also reached out to those struggling with mental illness and this punk rock community should know it’s ok not to feel ok and just talk if things are getting to you. We are all in this together, whatever this may be. Frank Carter reminded us of words Petrol Girls had spoken earlier, it’s fine to be down just share it and let’s look after each other.

Membranes are special to me. This is their home town, well it’s not really but it’s the original bands birthplace and singer john Robb, is the sole remaining original band member. They have diversified in recent years and the post punk sound is still there but drone and power are the main traits on display. Tonight they have the backing of a choir which just adds to the sense of surreal spectacular in this car park stage

Wonk unit are increasing in popularity by the day. Each gig sees them getting more popular. Second last band on the empress tonight and Earlier they played a stripped down version of their set in the acoustic room. Not even room to stand. Empress crowd weren’t left standing, we were too busy moving our feet.

Their good friends slaves followed them. For a two piece they can sure fill out a stage. For a drummer with two drums and 2 cymbals there is some sound on stage. At times it felt like maybe, just maybe, they were trying a tad too hard but the power was something else, as was the visuals

I wasn’t sure if their style of humour would suit that big stage. But it did. Alex treated the crowd as if we were visitors to his regal home, sticky dance floor and all. Wonk unit have been described as a modern day snuff and that’s not far off. They will play any gig, won’t get lost or worried in the trapping of success. And they listen to punk rock and know they are no different to us watching them. Perfect.

Kiss my acid were the first of many Irish bands for me to see today. Snotty abrasive tunes with green day playing grunge feel.

I am a car crash are gaining interest. It’s easy to see why, more rock than punk and more post the pre, it was great to see the dublin lads on the big arena stage.

Protex played the opera house. It gave us a chance to sit down, relax and enjoy their power pop tunes.

Lee Harvey’s have a 1978 feel to their sound but with power. Close your eyes and they could almost be part of that northern Irish good vibrations scene. Great set.

Paranoid Visions pack some power. Deko says they are tjebhate of the city’s well there’s a certain section thaysboroud of them. Singing and powerful as if killing joke had attitude for dinner. There is a large Irish contingent at rebellion playing and spectating. Most of these were in the large pavilion crowd tonight as the visions played more recent material and are as strong, prolific and valid as ever

Ok I didn’t quite make the 34 but managed to squeeze in songs from Godfathers, the Professionals, and Bono too

Niallhope

Rebellion 2016 – Day 4

image

Rebellion 2016 – Day 4

There’s always a certain nostalgia to the last day. Like the last day of a Christmas holiday as you prepare to return to work or revert to a life you had escaped for the week. The stalls that had been a hive of activity for four days are, in some cases selling off their wares, packing up after another years business done. This day also coincides with blackpools annual air show. To me it’s just war planes making a racket but for many who are camped out for the day waiting it is a highlight – maybe it’s their rebellion. There’s a huge breeze on the prom today, wonder how that will affect plane flight tracks

Anyway if speed of music could power electricity the same way as wind does then revenge of the psychotronic man could generate enough power to run this festival. Possibly Manchester’s fastest band this threesome whizz through their each song before you can say psychotronic.

Captain Sensible from the damned always seemed like an interesting fella so I ambled along to the opera house to hear his irreverent talk. Most entertaining talk of the weekend. Captain leaves no holds barred as he gives his forthright opinion of people and the damned’s career to date. is manner means he can get away with saying things the rest of us would be lynched over. I then rushed to the new band stage to get a few songs from head sticks before heading back to see a piece of Omixlh from Greece Head sticks have a lovely blyth powere esque feel to them without a drummer saying 1-2-3-4 in a quaint Cornish accent before each song. Fast folk that veers toward punk with a harmonica

I know little about the punk scene in Greece but I was expecting a more d-beat sound. OMIXLH had more punk than crust feel at home in 1982 uk scene. Pretty good

Demob, from Gloucester, started in 1978 and yet still have a song about Charlie Harper being great. Their first two 7″s weren’t about punk rock legends but more about the situation with disaffected kids growing up in south west England and then finding a voice through punk rock. Sing along anthems

image
Andy Higgins -rebellion

Andy Higgins is a man on a mission, his mission is to rid Blackpool Fc of its chairman Owen oyston before the club becomes a footnote in footballing history. Andy feels that Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortenson and more recently people like Brett Ormeroyd would be horrified at the way the club has gone downhill in recent years. It’s not like he wishes for the capitalist nightmare of the premiership but, like john Robb, Blackpool people are passionate about their home town. They feel the club should belong to the people and run not solely for profit regardless of what happens on the pitch. Andy will say Oyston out at any given opportunity and ran for election the the uk general election. He also plays in litterbug, runs a label and is doing a solo set today.

More clashes meant I had to miss goldblade, cress and Louise Distras but I wanted to hear Dave dictors story. Mdc have been on the go for many years and dave has just released a book on his experiences in it. Fast politically charged punk rock Johnny wah wah did a great job with this one as Dave spoke of the different scenes and dynamics in each one

After i had a quick chat with dave about the time Mdc played barnstormers in Dublin the nightingales took to the stagwe. Quirky sounds from this quartet. Certainly a band that continue to challenge the listener which is what punk does. No screams of ” n war, no kkk, no fascist USA ” which is what Mdc declared but this is a declaration of intent and rhythm, always rhythm with the nightingales, john Robb summed up rebellion perfectly when he said the festival is like one big John Peeel show, a huge divergence of music but a common ethos. Well the nightingales were peel favourites and belong here.

Ireland or more specifically Northern Ireland took over the empress ballroom for a little while as Belfast punks the defects and outcasts played. Punk rock bands that were very much on the edge and in a dangerous place when they started in 1979. That fear has since changed but both bands will never forget those days. the defects are the more political of the two and the title track of the new album 45 minutes is about bombs instigated by Tony Blair

For me the roughneck riot are a modern day men they couldn’t hang, maybe if the flatliners added some traditional instrument and covered the men. Banjo, mandolin, accordion and punk spirit shining through. Plenty of songs for you to scream along to. There was some power and passion on show. Class

image
Hagar the womb – rebellion

There was a brief return to the anarcho punk scene of the 80s with anthrax (uk) and Hagar the womb. Both had those circle a’s on their records as I unfolded out every crease in their fold out sleeve to read what they had to say. Anthrax always seemed slightly more serious and little has changed. They use their songs as statements where as Hagar the womb are more stories with plenty of humour thrown in I must admit I find it confusing when bands who have so much to say with their lyrics say nothing between songs as Anthrax did. The stage is their soapbox and some slip off it.

With a collective age of 310 Hagar have plenty of between song banter. Karen does her best to be the host on stage as she opens cans for all the band which led to the inevitable spills and makes sure they are ok. Bassist Mitch joined the crowd and it was all good fun.

image
Dag Nasty – Rebellion

I had to catch the adolescents. Another institution much like dag nasty. Two great u.s hardcore bands. The adolescents are from south California so it was fast skate core but dag nasty, well that’s a different story altogether. Melodic hardcore songs, the only problem is they were being played in a car park…in the rain!!!! It started raining which was good as there was less people around to smoke but then there was less absorption for the sound which at the start was awful. Like playing a record at home on low volume in case the people on the other side of the room hear you. What a shame. I moved down to stand in front of the pa, that helped a bit bar for the bass drum beating against my heart. I managed to find a spot with decent sound and got lost in the greatness. Where was I?

Ruts DC, as I mentioned, are royalty. The part they play in rebellion is of a people that were the establishment when people had faith in an establishment. People to be respected and listened to. Before it all went sour

I heard three other bands doing ruts covers this weekend. Bands that otherwise played originals. Tonight it is just their songs stripped down and sounding as good as ever. A few newer songs tonight but still it was a special moment when we all stood up at the end and gave an ovation of sheer respect and appreciation.

When the last day is complete I’m reminded of how much rebellion suits this “tatty seaside town”. Remnants of the 70s are rife. The amusement arcades will have their 2p falls and 10p bingo. It seems, almost frozen in time as they look back to the days when Britain used to holiday here and reminisce about then”good oil days”. Amongst this is glimpses of modernity trying to break through, some new buildings, some redecorate old landmarks but underneath it all a people proud of where they come from and not ready for anyone to tell them otherwise.

Up the punks

Rebellion 2016 – Day 3

The ruts take the opera house by storm

Rebellion 2016 – day 3

Nothing like a bit or raucous punk folk to start the day. I didn’t make it to black pitts but will catch them in Dublin soon I hope. Matilda’s Scoundrel were on the introducing stage and judging by the receptive crowd they weren’t being introduced to many. Accordion, mandolin, tin whistle with guitar, bass and drums drumming up some sing along punk anthems

Dunstan bruce has a very interesting story to tell and he is not only doing that on the literary stage he is in thee process of making a movie about it. The first phase of his Kickstarter campaign was successful but more funding is now required to get into the edit stage. Chumbabwamba played a folk set at rebellion just before their hiatus and Dunstan wasn’t around then but he is now back with his new band interrobang. Before their live set though he had a story to tell. Unfortunately johnny wah wah was asking the questions so there was little insight, it kind of feels like the questions are made up on the spot. Maybe the intention is to come across like two friends having a conversation over a drink and we did get to hear that chumbabwamba wanted to be a northern version of Crass whilst listening to the fall and the mekons.

imageDunstan started interrobang as he still feels the need to be part of something that wants to change the world, be part of a movement. Their sound does hark back to that post punk era Complete with loud hauler found at your nearest protest march. We get a brief break during the set when all three start screaming “I’m mad as hell. I’m not gonna take it anymore”. Dunstan even travels through the audience while we politely applaud. Great to see the evolving sound and message of wanting to change the world still being strong 30 years after I got a reply from my first letter to hin

Shot! were on the introducing stage. Rocky punk sound. Again the new band stage is shining, no inhibitions as bands give it everything in this small room. Rooms like this is where the bands playing on the larger stages in the venue all started out. This kind of energy too

One of the bands I was most looking forward to see as part of this festival was the spoilers. They are on new band stage clashing with Carol Hodge, channel 3 and hifi spitfires. But it doesn’t matter. They are nearly worth the admission price alone (it’s a lot of money just for one band). spoilers storm this rebellion introducing stage. They pop us in and punk us out. Catchy tunes that demand you join their gang. Bizarrely enough it was the worst sound that I’ve seen in that venue but still you could reach out and touch the power

Dick Lucas has now added artist to his repertoire as he has an exhibition in the punk art and even had some sold stickers on his paintings. The time culture Shock don’t play rebellion will find the festival with a huge hole to fill. Regular entertainers with their ska tinged punk filling the outdoor tower arena

I keep hearing and reading that there is a rebellion family and it is a great opportunity for people to catch up. I’m usually pretty introverted and love saying hello to people but after that start to struggle a bit. I’ve decided to try and work on this so go up and say hi to a few I see annually but had some connection with since playing in my first band in 1984. Socialising I think you call it :). It was great to catch up with people but meant I missed out on Jfa and the wall. I did get to hear the angelic upstarts as i stood on the road chatting and searching for wifi so I could see how the dubs were progressing in their football match. There was a huge turnout for the upstarts, a larger entrance had to be opened. I first saw the band in Blackpool in 1984 and they played many songs from that night, and played them just as well.

image

So the next dilemma of stage time clashes!! Hard skin won out to louise distras, flat back four and the Newtown neurotics. I had to hear the between song banter of the second biggest anti fascist band playing here. I even got to hear some new skinhead anthems that hard skin have written, oh wait hang on – they weren’t new they were just written this decade. I think the north pier theatre in Blackpool are looking to book hard skin for a residency. Comic genius but an undercurrent of reality, the mark Thomas of oi..

Got three neurotic songs which was a real bonus, could have done without the effects on the vocals though

The weird and wonderful world of Spizz / Spizz energi / Spizz athletico 80 waqs next – definitely Spizz energi now and it gave me. chance to sit down, restore some energy and not worry about beer being thrown for a while. I don’t know what it is about gigs that makes people think they can just throw a glass with liquid in it up in the air. One sped past my head at hard skin and the goon that threw it just smiled and said sorry. Lucky for me I’m old and not bothered these days otherwise I probably wouldn’t have seen anything other than a red mist for the rest of the night )and maybe even a+e after an inevitable defeat. Spizz took the stage in full make up, bleached blond hair and lights on his fingers and eyes. I wonder if he looks like that on his bus pass ticket? now that would be a statement. New wave music that only moved enough to make me leave so I could catch some cockney rejects before the last acoustic set of the day.

I stumbled across the end of the hobo jones acoustic set and what a sight. 350 punks singing along to sheena is a punk rocker with the lyrics changed for a little girl who requested last year they play a ramones song. It was the cutest request they ever received so they agreed to learn another one for this year. Of course they forgot until today and then charged it for Sydney. We all sang and clapped. Sydney danced and it was one of those magic rebellion momentsl, of which there are many

image
Henry Cluney, acoustic set rebellion

Henry Cluney was the original guitarist in Stiff Little Fingers, a hugely influential band. Slf are playing tomorrow night and their influence can be heard right throughout the weekend. Henry is no longer playing with the band, plying his own wares in xSLF. His acoustic set is a joy to behold as he packs the room to the rafters. Again the respect is just oozing in the room. Henry is part of a huge Irish contingent over for the festival. Not just consumers of what’s on offer, like me, but many artists here this weekend. A long list. Those Slf songs sound as good acoustically and rebellion is a perfect avenue for this but is not its about what was happening in 1976, 79,82 or whatever wave was going on. Yep some bands are still playing this songs the same way but with the songs stripped down to the bare guitar and vocals cluney has the acoustic room in his hands, hundreds singing along dreaming of that other world we all thought was possible

Ruts are another that have evolved. Death has seen to that. But wow have they evolved. We are the flock and the ruts are our pastors. Each year they play an amazing set and throw in a new song or two, The Dub element in their sound is lessening bu us still prevalent. The newer songs hark back to their original day, If Rebellion is one big happy family then the rus are the relatives everyone opes will visit.

My last band for the day are Paranoid Visions playing with Steve Ignorant. WIth Steve on board the visioins play a more straight forward punk set. It’s a packed stage, chaotic and powerful, they even sneak in a cover of a crass song at the end. Do they owe us a living? Well do they? Top class

Rebellion 2016 – Day 2

 

imageRebellion 2016 – day 2

Dublins I am a car crash provide the starting point today. Atmospheric rhythmic noise rock and sharing a drummer with paranoid visions which gets my head moving along nicely at this lunchtime.

I had to cut them short to go and see slice of life who certainly aren’t atmospheric noise rock. They have piano, acoustic guitar, bass and Steve ignorants voice. This is punk rock to me. Steve was in Crass, is collaborating with paranoid visions but this is a challenge, for those playing and not listening i may add It has a vaudeville feel (be it s punk version) at times with words that asks questions. This is what the crass war was for. The last time I saw slice of life at rebellion it was at the end of a long day for Steve and the beer had probably for the better of him. The crowd were there out of respect as it was a new enough project. We are now here for the bands songs and Steve puts his heart and soul into this performance as he raps along at times. “This world is full of hate but a bit of love is alright”

Wonk unit have their breed of London diy fun punk which is getting bigger by the year. They blasted the large stage of the Tower Arena and had a great community feel from them. Watching Wonk Unit it just seems like they are your mates on stage and at any moment they could either be dancing alongside you or your could be playing alongside them on stage.

Wolf Bites boy had the new band stage staged packed. Three piece punk oi anthems. Temperature in the room was hot, pavilion wasn’t much better with Loaded 44 on stage. Their sound has a rockier rezillos feel to it, guitar solos and all.

One of the (many) things I love about rebellion festival is that the time of day doesn’t seem to matter. Empress ballroom was packed with anticipation for Reagan youth at 3.20 on a Friday afternoon. Let me say it again Reagan youth!!! Blistering set from the U.S. hardcore band. The songs weren’t really written for ballroom arenas but they still pack some power even if therms have only 25% of their original cohort (only guitarist Paul Bakija remains from the original line up)

Back to the literary stage for a bit of Pauline Murray talking about punk scene of the 70s. Fascinating stuff. Interesting take on the music business “every time I get involved in the music business something horrible happens” artists get treated really badly as it is all about profit motive. Bands are having to work harder for themselves which is difficult but that’s where it is.

Alex brindle was on next talking of punk rock today and his time in the flying medallions. It was an interesting juxtaposition comparing old with the current (can’t really call it new). The enthusiasm of Alex in marked contrast to Pauline’s cynicism. Johnny wah wah was the host but preparation seemed to be minimal

The not sensibles single I’m in love with Margaret thatcher will go down in the punk rock annals as on of the snottiness of a generation. Their rnb brand of punk saw the crowds flocking to the opera house. Vice squad were on in the outdoor setting of the Tower Street Arena at a similar time. Still sounding as good as ever these could well be the last rockers of rebellion as they blasted their tunes with the blackpool tower standing strong in the background.

imageSpeaking of the Tower, I managed to get my hans on a copy of Blackpool Rox 2, complete with cover of the Tower falling into the sea. Interviews with Simon Wells, Ted Diabase, Poly-Esters and Cock sparrer made for great bedtime reading.

The a heads bring it back into more basic punk rock mode. They first appeared on the Wessex 7″ on Bluurg records in 198, alongside Subhumans and it is to see them still screaming for change.

Attila the stockbroker has been demanding change since Joe strummer inspired him to pick up a ukulele 35 years ago. His audience treated him like punk royalty tonight. Technical problems meant it was back to the original rapping poet tonight, no music just one man and his angry words, and some pieces from his excellent Autobiagraphy.

This rebellion introducing stage is great. The x ray eyes were completely new to me. Not quite of the standard of youth man last night (that bar is very high) but this was a set full of energy in a garage pop punk kind of way. Another album I look forward to giving plenty of time to.

Penetration took on a different meaning for me after listening Pauline Murray earlier. They had some great songs on that first album and well worth hearing once more. Now that they are back playing they have a new record out with solid songs and a sound that carries through. Not the energy and excitement of x Ray eyes but still good to listen to.

I’d been told a few times to catch the dictators so it was for other people that I went to see them. Rightly labelled as the “corrective tissue between stooges, mc5 and the punk scene” dictators still have a lot of hair on show. More rock than punk but songs that resonate around the vast expanse of the empress ballroom.

Brix Smith spoke on the literary stage and told us how she changed her name from laura to brix after the clash track Guns of Brixton. Brix liked to speak so I’m sure that made it easier for the conversation with john Robb to flow. And flow it did. Brix read out a chapter from her book, her take on her arrival into manchester. It was some culture shock for the u.s reared woman. With a kitchen the size of her freezer at home in Chicago.

As I was comfy i stayed to hear johns in conversation with Peter Hook. There was a great moment when Peter hook came on stage and took a picture with Brix. The crowd were ignored for a few minutes as what seemed like two old friends catching up. There’s a book coming out on new order that Peter hook has written, all 700+ pages. Sounds like it could be a new order encyclopaedia. Peter tells us about joy division being formed as they were walking out of the pistols first gig in Manchester and how he still can’t play bass. It was the attitude of the pistols that changed these Manchester lads, “knowing that anyone can get up and stage and play a gig. You didn’t care what anyone thought, you just believed and went up there and did it ”

imageA quick run into the acoustic room then for Swill from the men they couldn’t hang. This is a perfect surroundings for swill. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a companion on stage this was country shining through but sing along and inclusive. I feel at home in this room, my reclusive self can smile as there’s a sing song going on

Seeing swill meant that I missed the start of paranoid visions but when I got to the pavilion it was on fire. Perfect surrounding and a great set from my home town boys. The visions are very much part of rebellion, like tv smith but a outburst of energy like a zit being forced off your face. They have a menacing almost haunting feel. The sound has opened out and the killing joke influence seems stronger than ever. Of course for any band that has been playing on and off for thirty years you can’t really take the lazy option and state their influences. They are the influencers now. Paranoid Visions want to challenge you, I’m reminded of the first time I saw them. I was terrified and completely captivated. The fear has now gone as I’ve gotten to know them but the captivation still holds true

imageAs my formative years in the 1980s were spent listening to punk rock, you could call it an education of sorts. The Newtown neurotics were a semester (we call them terms back home) the neurotics and Attila were going to travel to Dublin but then realised the ferry cost was too prohibitive. We nearly had them but had to make do with listening to the brilliant live album instead. Miscalculations on time meant I missed the q*a with Steve Drewetr earlier. A shame to miss it as his band were very important. Now I’ve seen him live a couple of times. I came to rebellion specifically to see the neurotics a few years back (after travelling to Harlow to see them too) so I’m completely biased. Steve is getting more acclimatised to acoustic gigs and has his daughter back up on stage with him but the damn treble is still turned up in the guitar. We sang along to Kick Out The Tories and wondered if the new empowered Labour Party will make the breakthrough they are promising to and what i can achieve.

While the neurotics had a whole semester I most definitely took a few classes on the men they couldn’t hang. They toured ireland and we went to see their folk punk rebel songs songs a few times. It seemed fresher at the time than many of the oi bands that I was listening to. Intelligent lyrics doesn’t just have to come from the spiky or skinhead punks, it’s all about the spirit and the men they couldn’t hangs set was definitely full of punk spirit without a spike to be seen anywhere. As I stood here beside Atilla the stockbroker watching him mouth every word as swill spoke about hanging around afterwards to talk to everyone I’m reminded why I’m indeed part of this community. We are all equals and we are mainly in it for the right reasons. Sentiment along these lines was stated when shirt of blue was dedicated to all those fighting for union or human rights throughout the world. The battle continues

niallhope

Before the men I listened to Dick Manitoba’s talk about the New York scene and his time with the dictators whose album was released a year before the ramones debut. Of course this being rebellion dick had to be asked about the bar he runs in New York, his own place. He has photos all over the walls of New York and uk punk. Sounds like aa aesthetically pleasing place. There was confusion over his next steps when Richie asked about an upcoming book. Turns out it’s a comic book!! Might be a book on the way of money can be got.

I was hanging on for dear life at this stage but was determined to see Naked Aggression. The men they couldn’t hang express their anger through folk music but naked aggression use it through all their power and force with electric guitars. In the smaller arena the songs still sound a s aggressive and relevant as ever. I wonder if Reagan youth had of played in a smaller room on a smaller stage would it have been different. Naked aggression songs Janet lost their anger. Full on assault, just what’ you need at the end of a long day. I2 hours after the first band of the day I didn’t have the stamina for dublins lee Harvey’s. Next time

Rebellion 2016 – Day 1

Rebellion 2016. Day 1

 

image
Puke goodie bag on sake for ukelele punk band the pukes

It’s not quite premiership weekend in Dublin airport but the punks have replaced football fans on the Manchester flights. There is a sense of excitement as we wait to board the myriad of plans descending on the north west of England this weekend. It’s early morning but there are legions of loyal supporters ready for the days trip.

Rebellion promises to be extra special this time around. There’s more stages than ever, an outdoor arena and the literary stage has moved to the fancy surroundings of the Opera House. Will we be able to fit in all we hope for? The next four days will tell but for now it’s the thoughts of a starting 11 of jennie russell, Geoffrey oicott, pears, Jaded eyes, flag, Billy liar, bouncing souls, lost cherries, tv smith, descendants and the pukes with a definite sub to come on in TSOL that has me excited

There’s a bigger buzz about Rebellion this year. Much larger crowd than previous opening days, outdoor stage that is blasting the likes of evil blizzard makes it a different atmosphere but a one way system for people in operation makes moving between stages that but more difficult

Pears play high octane hardcore with tunes promising to breakthrough but it’s an assault for sure.

Vicki viortex and the cumshots are of one of these band names. Singalong basic enough punk rock. Plenty of 1-2-3-4 along the way. They are on at the same time as Ted diabase so a select few songs from both bands was enough. Ted diabase is much more punk rock’n’roll but full of power like all the best three pieces.  We all looked on bemused as Hundreds of Diabase pounds were spread into the audience

 

image

Jennie Russell is one of the brains behind rebellion so I really wanted to hear what she had to say. A great thing about rebellion is the literary stage. The stories of the punks who live through the past 40 years are related here. I really wish they could be recorded and stored as a document of our history but I suppose tongues wouldn’t be as loose that way. This years literary event is in the 2.200 seater opera house. Just one of 7 venues being used With a venue this big it takes a lot of filling and whilst the opera house was sparsely attended as jennie spoke of the history of rebellion over the past 20 years Jennie is bound by the questions asked and watching her I was wishing they were better prepared. No insightful questions but still a pleasure to hear her talk

I read about army of skanks in the latest suspect device so in a way it was luck riche rocker ran out of questions for Jennie as I caught a few of their songs. Tight enough punky sound.

Jaded eyes however brought it to another level. New band they aren’t really but they were on the new band stage. US influenced sound and I only cut the set short as it was a long trip round be one way system to see flag. Looking forward to listening to the new record i bought,

Not black anymore just stripped down to flag. They still made me leave jaded eyes and it the set proved me right. These are hardcore pioneers, it was worth being in the middle of a smoking area to hear such songs. Kind of weird listening to a band with the sun shining in my eyes though (another rarity for Blackpool. The sun was shining). If you’re reading this then chances are you have either got a black flag record or the bands you listen to certainly do. However after leaving the intimate surrounding of the new band stage I feel my punk rock belongs back there. Whilst I loved the flag set in the open air it is with jaded eyes I belong. Flags set seemed like a greatest hits yet the band had no hits. So many classic songs that have stood the test of time. Not that flag don’t deserve your attention. These people played the small rooms for years and trailblazed the way for other bands. It’s just that it seems so alien having them on a big stage seperated from us.

Svetlana from Russia have all the power of flag with an almost menacing feel. It grabs you by the throat and is full on attack. Raw power.

Mauro clash city rocker gave me a chance to sit down as he played acoustic versions of clash and Ramones songs. Sing along for sure and then when he got our attention he threw in an original song

I catch two songs from London band the duel. Maybe it’s me but I just don’t get it. I do get Billy Liar though. Scottish folk punk with a quirky acoustic style. Songs are reflections on life and are class.

It’s back out again for bouncin souls with poor sound. Still always nice to listen to 7 Seconds / Bad religion type songs.

I felt like i stumbled across a secret party with youth man on the new band stage. Huge energy, powerful sound. Post punk with the volume turned up. I’m glad to be part of this gang. Looking forward to the new ep, best band of the day. Check them out

youth man video
I then settle into the anarcho punk sound of lost cherries. I listened to these back in the 80s and still remember those idealistic days when anarcho punk was the soundtrack for what was about to change in the world, it just had to!! Lost Cheeres are still screaming about the rights of the voiceless. And long may they have that anger.

TV smith warmed me up for the double highlight off the night. Tim is as essential to rebellion as rock is to Blackpool. His acoustic sets are legendary but tonight he moves to the larger opera house capacity. It’s no problem and we are treated to a set of TV Smith with various guests blasting out classics over the past 40 years, including a new song too

Due to time clashes I caught half sets from the descendants and the membranes. The descendants are much lauded for their pop hardcore speed, almost leaders of that social sound. I was willing to skip the Membranes as I will see them again in December but there was something missing with the Descendent, maybe Milos voice or maybe that big stage is just too big. Maybe you need to be right up the front.

The sound in the Opera House is spot on for the half Membranes set I catch. Guitar assault backed up by the steady bass fuzz of John Robb and Rob Haynes solid drums the Membranes are an all inclusive group of troubadors. Robb tries frantically to get people on stage, seeking out scientists. I just wanted to sit and watch at this stage.

Finished the day off with the pukes ukelele fun, 13 people on the Opera House playing punk classic with their ukeleles, whats not to like there.

niallhope

Blackpool Rox II – Issue 10

Blackpool Rox II

Issue 10

The original Blackpool Rox was a mix of the bizarre, wild and infectious. Each page was lieterally crammed with in formation and art, you would need to viedw the page in all directions just to take it all in.  Like a good painting you could find something new every time you read it.  Of course though it was all about pushing new music of the day, of the era.  Death to Trad Rock was its rallying cry.

It died off after a few years and Blackpool Rox II sprang from its grave.  Andy Higgins of Just Say No To Government Music fame took over the mantle and he has pushed the Seaside Town and all it has to offer ever since.  It’s not just about Blackpool and the bands that avoid eating the rock that the area is so famous for.  Andy interviews some of the best UK bands at the moment.  Epic Problem, Stay Clean Jolene are in here.  There’s bits on local people doing things on a national scale- Journalist Steve Rowland, Video editor John Bentham and publisher Pete Walsh.  Of course Blackpool is home to Rebellion Festival so Johnny Wah Wah who curates the new band stage and Jenni Russell Smith who along with her husband Darren are the brains behind the festival.  Original Rox editor, John Robb, has a piece and then there’s the bit abou Andy running for election in the UK on an Oyston Out ticket (Owen Oyston being Blackpool Football Club’s Chair – who has overseen the clubs recent rise and fall on a shoestring budget but still a very profitable experience, for him).

Great Read

andy@jsntgm.com

Blackpool Rox Towers, c/o 16 Windmill Close, Blackpool, FY3 OEB, UK

niallhope

Rebellion 2015 – day 4. The end is nigh

Rebellion 2015 –image Day 4 it ain’t over til it’s over

Maggie Byrne was in We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It and it was a nice start to the day to hear what she had to say of her time in the band and that they were talking about what was going on in Britain born out of the time and culture in The country back then. Equality was discussed and how punk didn’t care about people’s sex and sexuality. Punk rock facilitated allowing people to be different which helped Maggie form her band. This stage is refreshing as we get to hear real stories whether it’s Maggie letting us know of a cryptic set list or her witnessing a murder or the band reforming in 2010 and then the death of her sister Jo right up to the band reforming once more for a gig later this year. So many tales

Deia Russell smith took to the acoustic stage and sang strongly. Another plus for this festival.

I saw a few songs from the crows on Friday and thought they would be well suited to the acoustic arena. The stripped down sound brings a folk element out in the vocals and is the closest to English folk I’ve heard in the acoustic room all weekend

Vice Squad have been on the go since that second wave of punk commonly known as uk82 and had a strong Female presence in Beki Bondage as vocalist. Beki has long been an advocate of animal righrts and social justice and it came through today in the Empress Ballroom

Justin Sullivan and Joolz spoke of new model army and new documentary to be released in September. Joolz and Justin are very interesting people with honest and refreshing viewpoints. The spirit of being in a band should be more important than what you play. There are no rules, make music in any way you want. That’s the meaning of punk for Justin (a.k.a. slade the leveller)

Maid of Ace were new to me when I saw them last year and was very impressed by how good they were. Nice to see them still bashing away and a great crowd reaction to their loud punk rock and roll. Great stuff.

it really is to rebellions credit that bands like the avengers get to play. Msny of us are punk historians (or dinosaurs) and the avengers play an important part of that history so to be able to see them is an honour. They are from la and started in the mid 70s, sound wise it ramones style new wave but this is about more than what they sound like and as dead Kennedys have freely admitted they paved the way for political bands like them

HDQ are still banging away with their UK take on US HARDCORE. ALways great tunes and great spirit. The sound was poor enough though as hdq songs stop start and aren’t your usual hardcore sound, closer to scream than 7 seconds this was a blistering set nonetheless, nearly as good as mcgonagle in 1988.

There have been two books released on the Dead Kennedys in recent years and today we saw a battle of the two authors. The debut album, Fresh Fruit For Roting Vegetables got dissected and the duel was friendly. I read Alex Oggs book last year and am now looking forward to Michael Foleys one.

tthe Pukes have a great stage presence, ukeleles, punk and lots of fun. Plenty of colour was in display, I wonder has bob geldoff comment about black trousers and band tsarist sent a message to the coolest uke punks around

How to explain Snuff in a paragraph? Impossible. Pure magic that made me wish it was the original line up which it tragically can’t be. Am I wrong in thinking it’s refreshing that snuff were the only bad to play in the empress hall (capacity 2800) not to have a merchandise stall and that had no roadie to organise their own sound. I was on my way to the front when a glass of beer was thrown up, moved back and more beer was being spilt than drank. I bet the winter gardens management are loving this. Increased bar sales for a mop of the floor. Anyway snuff are immense, you should drink your beer to them. Wonder how many bands played their set without a set list too?

Roughneck Riot clashed so i had to make do with buying a copy of their new record.

I still have my first postcard from Jon langford, a prized posession in my house. His journey to country started in Newport but he is very much based in Leeds punk, He was and still is in the mekons and three johns. His set was a collection of more mekons style as that is what his solo records are like. When he covered the mescaleros x Ray style I was close to tears, it’s nostalgia but those memories….

Dik Lucas has sang n three bands at Rebellion, all tight and great sets. i would love to hear some new stuff from him as he has kept playing all trhought the various governments he has been rallying against

TV Smith is a master at rebellion. There is a lot of respect shown at the festival but TV commands so much of it. His acoustic sets are always massive and enthralling and standing ovation he receives at the end is testament to that.

Blackpool heroes and local agit popsters the membranes were on in the Pavillion. Still making a racket and challenging your ears even if the line up looks very like Goldblade. We had them over to Dublin in 1986 and have been firm friends ever since. The sound is fuller now but nick and john from the celebrated line up are still there and the new album is as good as ever.

Less Than Jake are the last band on in the Empress as the festival winds down, with some uptempo brass backed hardcore. Brasscore anyone? Zounds were finishing off the Casbah stage and the Warriors in the arena as the stalls that were a hive of activity over the previous 4 days are packed off for the next leg of their journey. Maybe back to mail order, maybe some shops, some small businesses and maybe to spme other festival. But there still is the no small measure of the remarkable three johns in the Pavillion.

Rebellion is about memories and the three johns hold huge ones for me. I finish sad that it is over for another year, privileged to have been here and amazed at how good some of thw music was.

Rebellion 2015 day 2 from the wildhearted outsider

Rebellion Day 2

Here’s the thing…a few thousand punks gathered together in a Northeastern English Seaside town in August 2015…why would that matter? Is it all nostalgia? An attempt to recapture, relive, or even reimagine youth?

The Q&A conversations provide an opportunity to hear first-hand reflections from some of the people who were there. Pioneers.

Jules Denby has lots to say. Se is also fantastically articulate about what it was like to try to break into the music industry in the post-punk era. To get New Model Army gigs she pretended to have he own agency…yet as she reflected on how hard it was to break into the inner circle of culture…she concluded that it is harder now. To her freedom of expression has become more difficult for young artists…it has become a declining circle of opportunities….now parents pay thousands of pounds to get their kids’ bands started. Never mind DIY.

Today’s highlights included a number of female-fronted bands. And the most positive thing is that the female musicians and singers didn’t appear to be pandering to some cliched idea of what ‘rock stars’ or ‘girls in bands’ should look like. These were young women worthy of respect…commanding respect.

In Evil Hour showed another way that punk had reinvigorated and inventing itself:by getting a blood infusion from heavy metal. The female singer had a great tuneful voice and wasn’t afraid to screech when the music called for it. A band with a kick and a punch….and looking comfortable on the main stage.

Brassick were also impressive….powerful, packing a blast of energy and exciting to watch. I know I am using the language of fighting to describe these bands and that seems appropriate when there are so few women being taken seriously by the music industry…or taking the brave decision to bypass it.

The Ruts DC in conversation with Alex Ogg was another highlight. I feel that punk’s history and legacy is in good hands with people like Alex around to research and champion it.

The Ruts DC were fantastic in conversation and just as impressive on both the acoustic stage and during their full electric set. They took the essentials of that early punk movement and made songs that were pared down to their essentials yet had room to breathe and have a deep rhythmic resonance. They always bring to mind Fugazi…that no-nonsense economical approach…nothing wasted…everything in the perfect place. It sounds easy but is meticulous. They both make music that stands the test of time.

The Gang of Four’s debut, Entertainment, was one of the great albums of the era. So different….so exciting….funk rhythm….dance music with considered lyrics…words that made us think about our consumption…how we lived…how we received our information…..isn’t that a fine legacy?

To sum up Jules Denby and to quote Segs from Ruts DC: this is about “people unite”! It is about a caring community. And what could be more inspiring than that?

Honourable mentions to the energy of Cynadie Pills, Arthur Brown who pioneered the theatre of heavy metal in the 1960s, and the Damned whose Neat Neat Neat and Smash It Up were still joyous after all these years.

Rebellion 2014 Day 4

Rebellion 2014 day 4

Steve Ignorant

It’s always good to talk and listen so Ian glasper told us his story around his punk books. Great to hear the tales behind the book and its reason for existence

joey shithead is with terry chimes and Patrik Fitzgerald so missed his interview but I got to see 16 guns blast out their punk rock. Not sure of their history but they had a good crowd in the arena

One of the few bands I have watched a full set by is epic problem. The light show nearly prevented it as flashing lights on a Sunday afternoon don’t do a lot for me. Epic problem are worth it. Leather face with a street punk sound. Frenetic tunes from the north east of England. It made me think of all those good new bands like bear trade, Stay clean jolene, dauntless elite and holiday who are missing from the festival

Maid of ace are 4 women blasting out a rocky punk sound and a full on sound it is too.

The literary sage saw Seggs and ruffy from the ruts talking about everything they do is a tribute to malcom and foxey. They had to make light if the tragedy that befell the band but it is a story that needs to be documented

Garry bushell has a lot to say but needed better questions

It’s amazing how the ageing process takes us. Every day we change ever so slightly. I ventured into the empress ballroom and had a double take when I saw snfu on stage. La hardcore legends with that tuneful speed sound, visions of young skateboarders come to my mind when I think of snfu it’s all grey beards and long hair now, exactly how I would look if i grew my locks but to see it on a big stage, kind of like wizard

I love my Hagar the womb records. Played them to death as a kid. Its great to see them on stage having a ball and sounding as good as ever

Rhoda Dakar was in the body snatchers and did some guest vocals with the specials. She was a punk in 77 but you wouldn’t know by listening to back to the stage. 12 bar blues riffs, thankfully I didn’t need to stay

Old form casuals are just that, new signing for the day on drums. Popular street punk from Boston, not England but USA. They must get prize for biggest crew in the side of the stage tooy6

Walking into captain hot knives I’m the pavilion was like staking across a secret party. A packed room for one man and his guitar playing quirky songs about safety or whatever (usually drug related) Like a comedic Patrik Fitzgerald

Joey shithead from doa was backed up with 2 fellow band members. Stripped down doa songs still had the melodies and suited the ambience

A quick run to the pavilion then for the defects from Belfast. Every yearn I do this thing in my mind to see who has the most popular t-shirt the defects are up there this time. Their songs are about life growing up in Belfast during a warzome which most of snob the west will never comprehend. Strong Belfast punk

Sandwiched between 2 Belfast bands was Steve ignorant. He had already done a set with paranoid visions but his slice of life stuff is far more interesting to me It’s a step away from crass and is just are with some guitar, double bass and keyboards. Still singing about relevant topics but taking it to a different dimension. I only wish he would play non mainstream venues all the time. That would make it so more relevant. Unfortunately it had been a long day for Steve and we didn’t catch him on one of his great nights. Great songs though

I’ve been really looking forward to Louise distras all weekend. A young tv smith with a great sound and songs that mean something. all acoustic bar some rants. Good enough for the first encore of the four days. New album out too

I didn’t catch doa electric as something had to give but caught some of original sex pistol glen Matlock with his philistines. It was said earlier this week that the pistols lost it as a band when glen Matlock left. He was the musician to sids comedian and he can sure play. Their set is a mx of original and covers with a rockabilly slant

Nofx played Dublin in 1990. We put them on twice and I always enjoyed their sets. I was unsure of their onstage antics and nothing has changed. Plenty of banter, lots of innuendo but the music is catchy and fast as hell

It is totally apt that the last band for me to see is ruts dc, mixing absolute classic ruts songs with their dub inspired sound. It is often said that we renewed our more recent memories best well thankfully this was a send off rebellion deserved. Poignant in the ruts dc remembering rebellion friend sharkey who passed away earlier this year. As I left the pavilion the empty spaces were the stalls were heaving over the past four days greeted me. It was a poignant moment, rebellion i will be back next year, if only our dear departed could be with us

niallhope