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.
And so it continues, the streets around the Winter Gardens have been magically cleaned and the seagulls had some treats for breakfast, It all kicks off just after midday with Max Splodge the MC for a game of bingo, when in rome and all that.
First bit of music for me is the Uk based but US influenced sound of 4130;s. I’ve played them a few times on my radio show. Speedy and tuneful just like bad religion only with less words.
Johnny wah wah curates the new band stage which takes place on day 1, he also is one of the main interviewers on the literary stage as well as singing in on trial UK. Distorted Buzzcocks tuneful songs.
I felt like I’d gatecrashed a secret party gathering when going into see in evil hour. Fairly packed empress ballroom with hundreds of people sing along to the power punk on offer. It was a good secret and a good surprise however I still can’t get into guitar solos, any chance rebellion could ban them?
The Crows are regular features at rebellion but this was my first time to se them, tuneful punk that started with an accapella version of homophobia. What more could you ask for?
Every year I run a competition in my head for most popular band t-shirt. I will be amazed if gimp fist don’t win it for 2015. Biggest queue at a March stall for over an hour before they even played. Don’t quite get it myself
Paul Haslam on the Literary stage told us of his time getting into publishing books. I can’t think of many better ways to spend a Friday aftrnoon than listening to tales of punk rock by people who were involved, Paul co-edits street sounds magazine with Gary Bushell and owns countdown books. His upbringing was soul and mod and he dj’d at 100 club. He has a big connection with the oi scene but this talk ended up being rushed through due to him arriving late. Rebellion runs on a very tight timescale and its timekeeping is usually immense.
Cathi Unsworth reminisced on her days and her 5 books. Her journalistic career started with articles for sounds. And as I sat listening the lightbulb appeared above my head. I have read many reviews from Cathi down through the years. Sounds helped me discover some great bands in the 80s and Cathi (along with John Robb and Gary Bushell) helped with that soundtrack. Joolz then spoke of tattoos, writing, art her background, New Model Army and pretty much everything in between. Some sad tales of the removal of artistic freedom for people in bands. Both Joolz and her interviewee Rhona Dakar asked that people off all ages need to support diy and that is the way forward for all artists. Joolz had a tough upbringing and if she had of dropped a pin during her explanation of her youth it would have created a thunderclap noise. We sat motionless and stunned whilst we hear of the agony that men inflicted on her as an adolescent
One thing that strikes me so far is that there are so few all male bands or events. Striking in that it shouldn’t matter but with so much make aggression in punk rock it is heartening that women are involved and rebellion is not behind in pushing that forward.
Seggs and Ruffy from Ruts DC go into more detail about their new book. A book they introduced to us last year but has been five years in the making. It is now published. The band that don’t want to complain any more they want to provide answers. The message they want to send out is “people unite” How refreshing is that?
Paranoid Visions are gathering huge momentum and respect. Part of the furniture here, their accommodation becomes home to Irish Punk for the weekend. The flag literally flying in the front window of their, what Blackpool can only get away with calling a,hotel. The current line up is their tightest for years and songs new and old go down a treat. They are getting better with age and it was a dilemma that they clashed with the chat with ruts chat.
Cyanide pills are on damaged goods who always seem to pick out good tuneful catchy pop punk rock bands straight from the garage. I got their album after seeing the last year, well worth a listen.
We were treated to more stalwarts in the guise of Subhumans then. I’m never disappointed listening to their set even if Bruce doesn’t seem to be playing guitar. .
TV Smith played his own songs tonight rather than the Adverts classics of last night. It’s positive that so many people don’t just attend rebellion for nostalgia purpose. Sure the majority of people are here because of their affinity to a genre they lived and loved in a different century but they are still willing to open up to new songs, which is what Billy Liar and Louise Distras do in their seperate well attended acoustic sets
Ruts DC however are a different story. I think the best band I’ve seen here, the songs are incredible and the respect people have for them is immense. For many bands it can be a case of seeing a few songs and good and all as they may be you move on. Their is always someone else to see. For the Ruts DC my feet while not firmly planted on the ground (how can you fail not to move and be moved by In A Rut?) weren’t going too far. They played 2 sets tonight, electronic and acoustic and they made the trip worthwhile regardless of what other wonders the weekend might bring. They even do something the subhumans would never dare, play a new song. The respect the crowd have for the ruts is unequalled anywhere else. If Rebellion was a football team the ruts DC would be its star player. The one that can do now wrong and kisses the crest with meaning.
Back to reality and some comedic relief from Captain Hotknives before another nostalgic trip with the Rezillos. I spoke yesterday of that cassette I had in work, Crossing the red Sea wih the Adverts and I can;t Stand The Rezillos. Well the original pop punk band were bashing them out here.
More old scholl tunes from the Damned but to be honest that was just keeing me awake for another highlight. However the packed out Empress Ballroom were on a different wavelength as they jumped and sang and very nearly did as as It Up. Gang Of Four, I don’t know how i did it but i stayed awake over 13 hours after max kicked it all of with his bingo, caught the entire set and smiled my whole way home, not so much at Gang of Four and their incredible rhythmic angular songs. They could easily be Gang of one seeing as Andy is the only original member left but I am marvelling at the excellence and humility of ruts DC
One of the most interesting things about the TOTP documentary was talk of the Clash and their notorious boycott of the show. They refused to appear and I am sure their record sales suffered to some extent. BBC had their revenge though…and put their troupe of dancers on screen to cavort to Bank Robber when it was stealing (sorry!) up the charts.
But that Clash decision has to be placed in the context of musicians who refused to do something on principle. Something that would help their career, help them sell product. How many acts would actually take a stance that results in lost sales?
Richard Jobson from the Skids said their decision to play the show almost caused the band to break up. Stuart Adamson was furious as he didn’t want to play according to his bandmate. The inspiration of the Clash led to his wish to boycott the show. Jobson talked about the dilemma. It was particularly acute because ‘his friends’ Cook and Jones from the Sex Pistols were telling him to go ahead and play the show…while Adamson was wracked with guilt about it because of the Clash example. The Clash and the Pistols: same era different decisions, different values.
The documentary also discussed how Captain Sensible was told they were off the show if he wore his chosen outfit of a fetching (bridal?) dress! Funny to think of the power wielded by the TOTP producers.
Don’t forget the Gang of Four refused to appear when BBC wanted them to change the lyrics to a song to erase (sorry again, that’s twice) the word rubbers from their song. All of this reminds me of when Krusty the Clown wanted the Red Hot Chili Peppers to tone down their words and they exclaimed what a great idea that was…and then performed the song as written.
I shall continue to think about other bands who have made principled stands. It is a great change from people grabbing at every opportunity for some publicity.