During the early years of Loud Horizon, while I was also writing for Artrocker Magazine, I was lucky enough to go to a couple of gigs a week. Normally I’d be seeking bands to write about – bands playing ‘downstairs’ in the bars and art spaces in Glasgow.
There were a host of smaller venues favoured by a committed group of local promoters who, contrary to the perceptions of some, were truly in the business for the music. I would know whose shows would be worth heading out for, because of the reputation they had for booking exciting and raucous bands.
Bands like southside Glasgow’s, The Kidney Flowers would have been exactly what I was looking for.
Though they’ve been recording since 2016, and presumably playing way before then, I’m surprised I never saw them ‘live.’ I sure wish I had.
The three-piece (Grant – vocals; Abigail – drums; Grant aka TOG ‘the other Grant’ – bass) make one heck of a racket! Straight-up, in yer face, garage punk of the highest order. Their music is fast and frantic – riff heavy with thumping beats and pounding bass lines. Grant’s shouty / spoken vocal delivery is a perfect fit and reminds me a bit of Cuddly Shark who also based themselves in this parish around the mid-noughties. And a mighty fine band the were too.
The Kidney Flowers have just returned from a short (their first) UK tour. They covered venues around London, Guildford, Eastbourne, Bath and Manchester where they had enthusiastic and glowing reaction from the punters who rocked out with them.
They have also just released a ‘live’ six-track EP of this performance, recorded at Glasgow’s Bloc+ which can be purchased through their Bandcamp page – money well spent if you ask me. Check it out / buy it here.
All right, I confess I know ‘jack’ about this band other than they kick serious ass. This could be a pretty short feature!
I stumbled across Froggy & The Ringes on Bandcamp and instantly felt compelled to help spread the word. When their new full length release ‘Ringe Rock Pond Scum’ appeared on the player, little did I realise the artwork was more an actual portrait of the band.
Yes – it apears the band do perform like this – hence not very much info is readily available. Indeed, their Discogs listing makes mention of the fact that they are a ‘mysterious UK garage punk band with several releases in unbelievable small quantities. No one ever bothered to put them in the discogs database. Five labels were needed to convince the band to release their first “major” release (300 copies) in November 2020.’
The natural reaction for some, would be to instantly condemn them to ‘novelty’ status. And let’s be honest it would cost a small fortune to hire a defence lawyer and successfully argue against that assertion, given the circumstantial evidence.
But wait! Check out the sounds! This is hardcore garage punk of the highest order – yeah even if it is a sort of ‘concept’ album based on pond life!
Growled vocals, most un-frog-like, rage over the old school, late ’70s punk driving bass and pounding drums. There’s also room for some whining, Stranglers-esque organ squeezed in amongst the chaos. It’s all so frantic. And wonderful!
I dare you not to tap your foot . Or at least nod your head.
‘Growin’ Grapes‘ opens with a sort of USA evangelist rant; ‘Tadpoles’ starts with the sound of gurgling water /tadpoles ‘talking,’ and ‘Fuck You, Kermit!’ contains the fantastically image inducing line “Oi! Oi! Ribbit! Ribbit! Oi! Oi! Ribbit! Ribbit!”
It’s just so silly, especially set against the anger of the ten songs on the album. It made me laugh, anyway.
But the bottom line for me is the music and energy. And in my book, if you can successfully combine genuinely excellent punk rock with a touch of humour, then you’re onto a winner!
Methinks these guys have been hiding their talent under a pond lily way too long.
Smoking Pistols are a four-piece, post punk band from the Drôme region of south-east France. Formed during 2020, they recently released their second EP, ‘Sip It For Free,‘ via Bandcamp.
The five tracks are a loud and raucous mix of abrasive sounding garage punk, a little in the vein of Idles, I’d suggest. The strong EP opener and title track ‘Sip It For Free’ is shouty and angry … and hooky and catchy at the same time. It may take more than the initial listen, but you’ll get there. I’d say there were even shades of Foo Fighters peeking through towards the end.
‘I’m Just Not Good At It,‘ again has that Foo Fighters feel. Maybe it’s the rasping vocals and pounding drums, but I’m definitely getting that kind of vibe. There’s some nice discordant guitar going on as well. It’s a real fist pumper of a track, bound to go down well in a live performance.
‘Isolation,’ features more spoken styled lyrics and a buzzing guitar sound. It doesn’t have the sort of anthemic feel of the previous tracks, but is more of a ‘grower.’ Clocking in at almost seven minutes length, it sounds like a story of anguish and frustration been given some air.
‘Glass of Patience’ again features more chanted vocals over occasionally discordant guitar, building into a resounding chorus.
Then the closer, ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ veers away from Foo Fighters towards a more Talking Heads and Devo feel, with a little bit Rolling Stones ‘Woo Hoos,’ added towards the end. Which is all OK by me.
Though the lyrics focus very much on introspection, weird manipulations within human relationships, and self-destruction, the EP is pleasantly upbeat and boisterous.
All in all, this is a very positive sounding EP and well worth checking out.
Contributor: John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia, September2021)
At the age of 17 in 1975 I had found myself a ‘proper’ job. Junior musical instrumental salesman in one of Glasgow’s largest and iconic music stores. I soon learned that all sorts of wannabe rock gods would come in just to try out a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul guitar with no intention of ever buying one and usually sent these jokers on their bike.
On one particular day a young lad about my age, a little on the chubby side, approached my colleague and timidly asked to try out a guitar on display only to be knocked back. I don’t know why, call it a moment of weakness, but I found myself feeling really sorry for this awkward nerdy kid.
He became a regular customer over the next few months and years ( I never did get to know his name at the time) and eventually did buy a guitar – a reasonable copy of a Fender or Gibson from memory. Every time I saw him (we were on nodding terms now) there was a subtle change to the appearance of this one time dweeb of a kid. A piercing here, a tattoo there, a ripped pair of tight jeans perhaps until the last time I saw him. There he was in all his splendour with tartan bondage type trousers, leather jacket all studs and safety pins and a bright green spiky mohawk haircut. Wow ! I thought. What a transformation. A punk chrysalis no less.The shop closed and I moved on.
About three years later I was watching the TV show Top of the Pops and they introduced a punk band called The Exploited. I thought ‘here we go’ and was about to turn it down when I noticed my man cavorting about with a flying V – the lad from the shop!
Same scenario seven years later. Watching MTV and Goodbye Mr. McKenzie popped up and there he is again !
This very blog jogged this memory and so inspired further in depth research (well, half an hour on Google) to find out more on ‘customer come celeb’.
Our guitar hero is known affectionately as Big John Duncan, and he does age with me.
After The Exploited, he had bands Human Zoo, Crazy Maybe and Blood Uncles before joining the McKenzies.
He then went on to have a life as a guitar technician with Nirvana, Twisted Sister, Foo Fighters and Ministry.
Here he is talking about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
Goodbye Mr McKenzie are making a bit of a comeback apparently so look out for them if you’re in central Scotland.
I wonder at any time over the years if Big John paused and thought “I wonder what ever happened to that spotty faced teenage music shop assistant that let me try out a guitar ? Oh, here’s your Fender Mustang Kurt.”
Sacripolitical were, and now are now once again, a hardcore punk band from Marin County, California. Formed in 1982, around their time of leaving High School in San Rafael. The band, whose name reflects the members’ irreverent attitude towards politics, played shows around the state right through the decade.
They first took to the stage at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax in late 1983, as a three-piece. No amp; upturned plastic pickle barrels substituting for drums, and improvised,, shouted vocals – the stunned audience of hippies and punks didn’t quite know what to make of the young upstarts!
Vocalist, both then and now, John Marmysz, takes up the story:
“Back then, there was a very small, but very enthusiastic punk scene here in Marin County, California that has been sorely under-documented and over-shadowed by the San Francisco and East Bay scenes. There was a lot of raw creativity and rebellion, a good deal of trouble, lots of fun, and some sad tragedies.
“We played shows throughout the 1980’s on the bill with bands like Frightwig, Fang, Camper Van Beethoven, and The Pukes. We were interviewed on the Maximum Rock N Roll radio program, and in 1993 we recorded an EP titled ‘Peace: Under Our Supervision’ that was released on cassette.”
During the mid-1980’s, Sacripolitcal became a fixture at Marin County punk shows, frequently playing at the Sleeping Lady Cafe, various underground warehouse shows, and at the Flashback Cafe in Mill Valley, where the founder of “Cutting Edge Productions,” Mike Kavanaugh, dubbed them the house band.
Performances at the Flashback Cafe were frequent and rowdy. It was there that Sacripolitical appeared with bands such as Tales of Terror, Special Forces, Victim’s Family, Defend the Keg, Diet Tribe, The Pukes, and many, many others.
Often, Sacripolitical would hand out special “prizes” and “treats,” sometimes consisting of band pins and stickers, sometimes consisting of spent rifle and pistol casings. The shows went late into the evenings and were regularly interrupted by the police, who sought to silence what must have appeared to them like a riot waiting to happen.
John continues: “Sacripolitical broke up in 1993 and everyone went their different ways, but by 2019 some of us – now old guys! – resettled in and around Marin and decided to start playing shows again. This, as it turns out, was bad timing as the pandemic hit in 2020 and live music venues went into hibernation.
“The pandemic killed a lot of bands, but we assembled some recording equipment, learned how to use it, and started writing new songs.
“In 2021 we recorded a 4-song, DIY EP and pressed a 7” 45 rpm vinylrecord. The EP is titled ‘Pandemic Sessions, ‘ commemorating the conditions under which it was made. We’ve also been contributing songs to a number of punk charity compilations put out by 8 Up Records.”
You can hear, and indeed buy, the result of these sessions , here on Bandcamp. I particularly enjoyed ‘Gogol’s Nose,’ with the discordant saxophone giving a bit of an old school, No Wave kind of feel.
Hopefully, over the coming months, we can all get on top of the pandemic, and gigs will once again become more commonplace. Neighbourhoods need a vibrant local music scene, and while they may now be about thirty years older, I bet Sacripolitical can still do ‘vibrant’ with the best of them!
SACRIPOLITICAL John Marmysz – Vocals Matt Schmidt – Guitar Mark Wallace/Mike Hansen – Bass Gary Benson – Drums Charles Greer – Saxophone Juneko Robinson/Sian Killingsworth – Backing Vocals
Choi Se Eun (bass) and Jeong Yea Wong (guitar) are Rumkicks. They are a two piece punk band from Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, although I believe there are plans for them to be joined by a permanent drummer soon.
They formed in September 2018, and after releasing two singles in the following year, they had great plans and hopes for 2020. Didn’t we all?! The surging pandemic put paid to that and the band were forced to remain at home instead of accepting the invitation to play at the Chonging Punk Festival in China. It had also been hoped to play a few dates around Beijing.
This year though, has seen a gradual relaxation of restrictions with life slowly beginning to return to some sort of normality and Rumkicks have once again been allowed to play gigs in their home country. They have also released two singles this year to date, ‘Don’t Touch My Head’ (above) and this, ‘I Don’t Wanna Die.’ And in true punk spirit, have also contributed songs to various charity compilations in Asia.
They are currently working hard towards embarking upon an Asian / China tour once the pandemic finally releases its grip on inter country travel. Reading between the lines, though, I think their BIG aim for 2022,, is to take that stage in Blackpool, England, at the iconic Rebellion Festival and play alongside many of their musical heroes. (I would hazard a guess that one of the bands they admire, is Cock Sparrer – do I detect a likeness to their ‘trademark’ song, ‘England Belongs To Me,’ in this recording? Don’t get me wrong – it’s no bad thing. I like it!)
**Actually, after posting this, I found a video of the band covering thesong in a small venue somewhere back in 2019.**
Although I’ve been into Asian punk for a while, the bands I’ve enjoyed have been mainly from China and Japan: Another Idea and Hang On The Box, (China) and The Erections and Shonen Knife (Japan) are the ones that spring immediately to mind from my collection. Rumkicks are the first from Korea. I’m sure there’s a whole new punk out there for me to discover!
I find the music of Rumkicks a real ‘pick me up.’ It’s old-school, in yer face, punk; it’s fast and furious; it’s angry, but fun. I love the vibrancy of the music and colourful image.
When I go to a gig, I like to have a few beers jump around with a group of like-minded souls. If they do manage to the UK next summer, and they head up to Glasgow, then look out for the old punk with a puny mohawk, giving it laldy down in the mosh pit!
Choi Se Eun – Bass / Vocals Jeong Yea Wong – Guitar / Vocals
Bad Mary are a four piece punk outfit, playing out of Long Island, New York. They have been together eleven years, recording since 2013, and have gigged at some of the city’s most iconic venues, The Knitting Factory and The Bowery Electric among them. They have also played on the bill at The Warped Tour, and completed a very successful mini-tour of Japan.
Their music is generally fast and bouncy, danceable punk; music to get everyone moving in those intimate, sweaty venues. They sure bring a fun vibe to their music – which for me, is just what music in general is all about.
They have released three EPs and two albums, the latest of which, ‘The Return of Space Girl,‘ debuted in 2019. It’s a punk-rock space-opera about a robot from space who has a few things she needs to teach the world. Yeah. It really is!
The album is a real belter, musically. Thirteen furiously pounding but melodic songs in thirty-three minutes – true old school punk style. Check out ‘I, Robot,’ is my recommendation.
They declare themselves as a punk band, inspired by Seventies punk luminaries such as The Ramones and Blondie, but blending their sound and fun attitude with that of second wave punk bands such as Green Day and Paramore. ( I can actually hear a similarity in Amanda’s vocal delivery to Hayley’s.)
However, I see and hear much more than that.
Bad Mary are prolific in posting videos and from what I’ve seen, they could equally head off down a more gothic route (White Rabbit – which I’m unable to post here) or even artrock avenue, (Theme From Daria.)
(I love this video / track.)
As with bands the world over, these past eighteen months have been a bit of a nightmare with no live shows, but in addition to adding to their You Tube channel, Bad Mary have been streaming short live gigs on a weekly basis during the pandemic.
… and there was me thinking the internet had ALL the information we ALL want to know.
In typical ’77 punk style, Wakefield’s finest appear to have given the one finger salute, and completely subverted the information highway. But here’s what I’ve got on The Stukas.
Back in the day there were only a few means of discovering new bands and music. You could read about them in likes of Sounds, NME and Melody Maker; you could borrow an LP from a pal’s big brother, or … you might hear a new band play a late evening session on the John Peel Radio Show.
The latter came with the best guarantee of quality – I can’t think I heard any bands I didn’t like being invited onto the show.
This was how I became aware of The Stukas.
To be honest, with so little information on the band readily available, and with such a limited recorded output, I had forgotten about them until I once again stumbled across their energy and vibrancy a while back.
In my rather vain attempts to find out more about the band, I’ve seen them described as part punk / part rock ‘n’roll. Some folks have left a space for The Stukas to be filed in their ‘power pop’ pigeon-hole.
To me though, they are quality ‘Pub Rock.’ And I mean that as a compliment.
In the mid to late Seventies, when Punk and New Wave had usurped Glam, and the Rockabilly revival was gathering pace, people could become a bit sniffy about the term ‘pub rock.’ Perhaps it was seen as a style that had not moved on, developed; regarded as old hat? Uninspired?
I don’t know – I loved it. Vibrant and fun, it was. And that’s how I feel music should be. It should lift you, and put a smile on your face. When you consider likes of Dr Feelgood; Eddie & the Hot Rods; The Roogalator; Kilburn & The High Roads; Brinsley Schwartz and two of my favourites Graham Parker (& The Rumour) and Ducks Deluxe all came from this background, then why would anyone try to ‘dis’ the scene?
‘Sniffy?’ In his magnificent ‘A Sharp Shock To The System‘ tome, author Vernon Joynson is not very positive in his comments about The Stukas, which is a great shame. Much as I admire his work and love his books, I couldn’t disagree more with his view. Each to their own, I suppose.
Despite VJ’s opinion, it still puzzled me as to why a band such as TheStukas (a) recorded only three singles as their total output, and (b) only the first was on the Chiswick label, who, from afar, looked to be the perfect home.
Guitarist ‘Raggy’ explains:
“The Chiswick deal was done before we had a manager. Once appointed, and with big ideas for the band, he sacked the singer and bass player. The band then morphed into Autographs – put together quickly to capitalize on a deal with RAK.
“One single (‘While I’m Still Young’) and personality differences caused the band to split. Chris Gent, saxophone & vocals, would go on to later play with Radio Stars.“
(Since he mentioned it – here’s that single, with Raggy on guitar.)
The Stukas still get together about once a year with a deputy guitarist.
And just to prove they’ve still got it, here’s the band at a 2018 reunion show, performing the B-side to their second single, ‘I Like Sport.’
THE STUKAS Paul Brown – Vocals Raggy Lewis – Guitar Mick Smithers – Guitar Kevin Allen – Bass John Mackie – Drums
1977 saw punk music take a more melodic turn towards what would become popularly known as ‘new wave.’ Exponents would still harbour that old ‘F*** you’ attitude, but would express it with a smile rather a than a snarl.
One such band, and a big favourite of mine to this day, were Radio Stars. They wouldn’t claim to be the biggest of bands, but I’m sure everyone of a certain age will remember, their greatest hit, ‘Nervous Wreck.‘ (It tip-toed into the UK charts for three weeks in February 1978, peaking at number thirty-nine.)
It’s not that they were without pedigree – they had that in spade-loads. They were formed in 1976, when the initially heralded glam supergroup, Jet, split up a couple of years and one album into their existence. Vocalist Andy Ellison, who had previously been one of John’s Children, alongside Marc Bolan, former Sparks bass player, Martin Gordon and guitarist Ian MacLeod dusted themselves off and regrouped as Radio Stars.
By 1976, Glam had had its day, and the music press, always keen to pigeon-hole bands for convenience and order, decided the ‘new’ band were more New Wave than Glam or out and out Punk.
In April 1977, the band released their debut single ‘Dirty Pictures‘ on Chiswick Records, and a month later recorded their first session for the John Peel radio show.
This is when and how I first became aware of Radio Stars. I remember it so vividly – especially the track ‘No Russians In Russia‘ which later appear on the ‘Stop It’ EP.
Television appearances followed, the first reportedly being on Marc Bolan’s own show. (See – it sure pays to maintain your contacts, kids.)
The association with Bolan was also apparent on the B-side of ‘Nervous Wreck,’ Radio Stars’ flirtation with the charts in 1977 – ‘Horrible Breath‘ was written by him during his time with John’s Children.
Unfortunately, sales of the latter album were not on the same level as the debut . We music fans it seems, can be so fickle!
It would also appear from Martin’s website there was a bit of dispute within the band and Radio Stars subsequently faded, and died.
I was lucky enough to see them on 10th October 1978 at Strathclyde University, Glasgow – I got a pal who was studying there to sign me in. I must have seen hundreds of gigs in my time, but I can honestly say that there are very few that I remember as well at that one, almost forty-three years ago!
RADIO STARS Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals Martin Gordon – Bass / Vocals Ian MacLeod – Guitar Steve Parry – Drums
Formed in Dublin in 1975, Radiators From Space are credited with being Ireland’s first punk band, initially adopting the name Greta Garbage and The Trash Cans.
Their music is straight up, first wave punk – nothing too fancy, just high energy, angry but melodic, shouted gang vocals, over raucous guitar and drums with a predominant, throbbing baseline. At this early stage, the music still echoed influences of early Sixties rock ‘n’ roll / garage and like all classic punk songs, none overstay their welcome, and are short sharp and straight to the point!
The band were picked up by the excellent Chiswick Records label (more about them in a later post) and their debut single ‘Television Screen‘ was released in 1977.
Later the same year, their first album (and only LP under this particular name) was released, again on Chiswick Records. ‘TV Tube Heart‘ comprises thirteen tracks, over thirty-three fast, furious and fabulous minutes. You could say that the sound is standard ’77 punk noise, with tracks like ‘Ripped and Torn‘ reflected by The Rezillos and ‘Blitzin At The Ritz,‘ a bit Clash-esque in places.
By the time of the album’s recording, original vocalist, Steve Rapid, had left the band, to be replaced by Phil Chevron who would later move on to join The Pogues.
In 1978, the decision was taken to shorten the band name to simply, ‘The Radiators,‘ and their second album, ‘Ghostown‘ was released in 1979.
Over the years, there have been a few re-incarnations of the band and retrospective releases, but these are the only two albums of The Seventies.
(After leaving the band, Steve Rapid – real name Steve Averill – went on to become a successful design artist, famously responsible for producing U2’s album covers. He is also reportedly credited with suggesting the band changed their name from ‘The Hype.’)
(Steve Chevron sadly passed away in 2013)
THERADIATORS FROM SPACE Phil Chevron – Vocals / Guitar James Crash – Drums Peter Holdai – Guitar Mark Megaray – Bass Stephen Rapid (Steve Averill) – Vocals