an evening with THE SADISTIC SLOBS
In an interview Angelic Upstarts singer/songwriter/leader/chief, Mensi Mensforth (RIP) told me that ‘To be in a band you don’t have to be a prolific musician or go to art school you can just bang a dustbin lid and you’re away mate’.
Over 40 years ago in a working class pit village in County Durham a gang of brothers crashed into each other and were named The Sadistic Slobs.
To sift through the damage I met up with Paddy (vocals) and Gran (bass) in The Littlehaven Hotel, South Shields.
Gran: Me and Paddy first met after I was locked up at Roker Park, Sunderland football ground. What happened was a lad standing next to me had a butchers knife and was banging it on the gates, he saw police coming so passed it to me.
Well I got marched around the pitch and put in a cell, and who else did I find there ? it was only Paddy’s brother. I told him my story wanting to be in a band and you know what he said ? ‘Don’t let our young ‘un sing…..he can’t’.
But he’s still here now and doing a great job.
Where did it all begin ?
Paddy: In the ‘70s we were living in Fencehouses near Sunderland and nothing much was happening. I was into glam rock first then suddenly got hit by punk.
Gran: Never Mind the Bollocks changed everything, it opened my eyes, that Pistols album cannot be beaten, then I started listening to The Clash who I still play to this day.
Paddy: Suddenly around the village it was like an institution to be in a band, everybody was wanting to start or be in a group. Bands like The Carpettes were around, The Proles had just put out a single and we all thought ‘we want to do that’. I remember buying the 7” in a record shop in Houghton le spring.
Then starting a band there was lots of comings and goings of different line ups, someone once turned up with only a cymbal and a snare drum.
Gran: We started rehearsing one song and said ‘right that’s in the set’. All the songs were like that, done very fast.
Paddy: I remember our drummer used to bring his kit in a wheelbarrow.
Gran: Yeah we had a roadie as well, and his younger brother came along and made it two roadies!
Paddy: But eventually we got a settled line up in 1982.
Gran: Unlike other punk bands we weren’t political, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Paddy: We did play some Rock Against Racism gigs and done stuff for Animal Charity’s. Funny enough these days we are a lot more popular than we were back then, we have a decent following and the new album is out.
Gran: Five year ago we got back together and added more catchy songs to our set and we’ve recorded an album.
Where did you gig in the early days ?
Paddy: Places like Peterlee football club, Fowlers Yard in Durham, Chester le Street and Ferryhill supporting GBH. We played in the Robin Adair pub, it was notorious as one of the roughest pubs in Newcastle and eventually got burned down. It was a sort of workingmen’s club.
Gran: On the night of the gig we went in with our mohicans and the poster on the wall advertised us as a comedy show group!
Paddy: There were only a few people there, I’m sure one of them had a dog.
Gran: Aye when we finished the committee guy popped his head around the door and said ‘you can rehearse here again next week’.
We played the famous Old 29 pub in Sunderland and a band called Animated Coathangers supported us. When we were on stage our friends were jumping about, the floor was bouncing and going to collapse.
The manager ran out threatening them with a baseball bat shouting ‘will ya’ stop pogoing’ (laughs).
Paddy: It was like walking on a sheet of glass with all the broken bottles on the floor.
Gran: Rock bands played there on a Saturday afternoon, I remember before a Sunderland match we went in and two lads were pissing on the fire – imagine the stench! But yeah saw the Toy Dolls in there and The Proles of course who are still very good friends of ours. Aye really good days.
What other bands were around at the time?
Gran: There was and still is Uproar who we played with recently.
Paddy: Red Alert, Red London and we played in a band in the early days with Steve Straughan who’s in the UK Subs now. All good lads you know.
In the North East during the early ‘80s as the shipyards and pits were being closing down and the Miners strike was boiling over did you get involved in any fund raising for the miners families ?
Gran: No but we were pinching coal from the coke works ! We didn’t play any Miners Benefit gigs or charities to be honest we were just happy being in a band. You see its all about enjoying it for us, being with mates, not taking it too seriously and definitely no egos.
Paddy: We were never a protest band and we’re keeping it light hearted even now. A lot of songs are tongue in cheek. We’re nearly 60 year old we can’t be jumping all over the place you know.
Gran: In our songs we can take the piss out of each other, it’s all about having a laugh for us.
Paddy: I joined when I was 16 and probably took myself serious then but times change, life happens.
Gran: With our roadies and followers we all get on so well it’s like a family.
Paddy: Yeah it’s called The Slob Squad and not one of us are a full shilling!
Gran: Sometimes it’s like a day out for everyone like ‘last of the summer wine’.
We played Rebellion Festival in August and went on stage 12.30pm, there was a couple of hundred people in the audience but more outside couldn’t get in, not sure why they were stuck outside might have been a problem with security on the main doors. But we just got on and done our thing on stage.
Paddy: We enjoyed it and had a great time, would love to go back and play again.
Where did you record the new album ?
Gran: My mate Wayne Marshall in Pelton Fell has his own digital set up at home that’s why it’s called Bedrock Studios. He was guitarist in a band I was in years ago called The Scream. It’s come out great he’s a talented lad.
Gran: We went ahead and got 500 copies printed of the album and that’s starting to sell and we are looking to record a second one. We’re not in it to make money, not that bands do anyway but to keep ticking over we’ve got a lot of merch on sale, even face masks!
Paddy: The quality is fantastic, ten songs, it’s heavy vinyl with a gatefold sleeve they’ve done a great job for us.
Gran: And on the back of the cover we’ve included a big thanks to people who’ve helped and supported us along the way.
Paddy: Yeah they’ve been with us for nearly 40 year. We done our first recording in Impulse Studio in Wallsend in 1983, I think the guy from Venom was working there then (bass & vocalist Cronos was tea maker/gofer).
What does punk mean to you ?
Both at the same time: Attitude.
Paddy: Now it’s as big as it ever was, we are getting more people at gigs than we used to. They have all grown up and their kids have grown up so they’ve time to go to gigs.
Gran: I’ve always said we are at a funny age – there’s a song in there somewhere! When we’re on stage once we stop seeing people laughing and enjoying themselves we’ll call it a day.
Paddy: In ’85 I was in The Scream we supported UK Subs at the Bunker in Sunderland there was maybe 15 people in the audience, now it’s growing because at a UK Subs gig there is easy 500 – 1,000. Always said that old punks are still punks.
Contact The Sadistic Slobs on social media for info/gigs and email email@example.com for details how to buy the album.
Alikivi September 2022