AUTOLEISURELAND – new album by ex-Kane Gang duo

Paul Woods & David Brewis

Autoleisureland is the new project by former Kane Gang members Dave Brewis and Paul Woods.

The Kane Gang, with Martin Brammer completing the line-up, formed in the former coal mining town of Seaham on the North East coast in 1982, and signed to Kitchenware Records.

The pop soul band notched up several UK and USA hits including Respect Yourself, Closest Thing to Heaven and Gun Law.

I asked Dave and Paul how did the project come about ?

PW: It started a few years ago when Dave was working on his instrumental album.

Every week before we popped out for a pint he’d drop off a new mix or new track. I really liked them and started on lyrics to turn them into songs. It snowballed and I started giving him lyrics and ideas for new ones.

DB: Paul and myself have remained in touch and seen each other regularly over the years since the Kane Gang was active. When I quit lecturing at Gateshead College I was still doing session gigs, but fancied writing again.

I recorded a set of tunes, and Paul thought he would write lyrics, so that got the ball rolling. Before long we were full on writing and recording, something we always enjoyed. So we thought we’d name ourselves and start a band project.

PW: Eventually we came up with the song Autoleisureland and that was the catalyst for the sound we were going for in our heads. Sort of all of our influences coming together.

After that we were off and running. I’ve never enjoyed working on something so much.

Have you a best time for song writing ?

DB: Definitely not in the mornings. A few days a week we work two to three hours at a time in the afternoon on recording.

After that length of time we lose our judgement so we stop, but evenings are when we usually write and that is done separately. Then we exchange ideas and continue. It’s quite efficient as we usually know what we are after. But it can take time.

PW: I tend to have the best ideas at night for hook lines, titles and choruses. Sometimes when I’m listening to some other music and I mishear the lyrics, it sets me on a different train of thought. The rest of the daytime is used for the mundane lengthy task of actually finishing it.

Autoleisureland album released 25 November 2022.

What do you consider for the final running order of the songs on the new album ?

PW: We had a number of catchy songs that kept going, all rather upbeat and positive and we didn’t want to break the mood. So, we didn’t really want a slow number until about the seventh track in.

DB: We start with something upbeat that is representative of the album – Autoleisureland, then try to run four or five strong bangers in a row. Pop in a slow one then kick off again.

We have a few reflective ones but we finish this album with the title track Infiniti Drive, as it bookends with the first track Autoleisureland.

Do conversations ever turn to ‘remember in the ‘80s when this happened’ ?

DB: Yes sometimes. The odd daft thing that happened with taxis, airports, interviews. For me, thinking back to studio work mainly. That was very enjoyable, I think we preferred that side of it.

PW: The Kane Gang was and is a big part of our lives so it’s natural we have some thoughts about it. Obviously, the older you get, the less you remember.

For instance, a few weeks ago a thought came to me and I asked Dave, ‘were we on Soul Train?’. All of a sudden I had a flashback of the dancers and the show’s set. We performed Motortown.

However, on its official website it says we were never on. They mustn’t have used it, I guess.

What does music mean to you ?

DB: Music is a part of my life. I feel somewhat frustrated if I haven’t played or written something for a while. We can create and shape something out of nothing that entertains and feels worthwhile. 

PW: This is difficult. For Dave, I believe it’s simpler. He’s a musician. That’s what he studied for, that’s what he practised for, that’s what he does, that’s who he is. He doesn’t think about it. And then there’s me.

When it comes to music I’ve always had imposter syndrome. Never believing I’m good enough to sing, write, record. All the time I was in The Kane Gang I was plagued by that.

It was only until this latest project that I thought, ‘yeah this IS what I do, and I’m going to keep doing it’, so I apologise in advance.

What are your hopes for the new album ?

PW: Who knows anymore. I’m just pleased it’s done, out, finished. I’m prouder of this than anything I’ve done. So I’m pleased it’s out, people can hear it and then we can get more stuff out and even more recorded.

DB: We hope we can reach a lot of people who like this style of music, worldwide. Obviously some Kane Gang fans, but also the people who listen to our contemporaries like Tears for Fears, China Crisis, Prefab Sprout.

And people who like some of the more interesting newer bands. It’s good to try to be fresh but ultimately do what you do.

Autoleisureland is released on 25th November 2022 on all digital streaming and download platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube & Bandcamp.

Alikivi    November 2022

GEORDIE PLAYS book launch at Newcastle City Library

Held on Saturday November 26th by North East playwright & theatre producer Ed Waugh (Dirty Dusting, Hadaway Harry, Sunday for Sammy), the event in Bewick Hall will be a celebration of fantastic stories about working class heroes from Tyneside.

“I’m really excited about this. It’ll rock. There’ll be Geordie songs, stories, and a video link – it’ll be great crack” said Ed

The Harry Clasper, David & Glenn McCrory and The Great Joe Wilson stories were successful stage plays in their own right, now the scripts have been compiled together and released into one book – Geordie Plays.

Harry Clasper’s story follows his journey from working class pitman in Jarrow to rowing Champion of the World.

North East singer and song writer Joe Wilson chronicled working class life in song including the Geordie classic Keep Yor Feet Still Geordie Hinny.

“North East actor Jamie Brown who starred in both plays Hadaway Harry and the Great Joe Wilson will be singing some Geordie songs at the event”.

“We have the top journalist and sportswriter John Gibson coming along, he will regale us with stories about Glenn McCrory’s rise to boxing world champion stardom and the inspiration he got from his severely disabled brother David”.

“We’ll also have a video link to the three plays’ director Russell Floyd” explained Ed.

Some may know of Russell from his time acting in UK theatres and TV shows including Eastenders and The Bill.

“There’s also a special 5-minute video by Canadian, Kas Wilson, talking about what it means to be Joe Wilson’s great-grand-daughter”.

“I would like to give my thanks for continued support to all audiences, supporters, organisers – everyone involved in making this happen”.

The launch is on Saturday, November 26th 6pm, Bewick Hall, Newcastle City Library.

Tickets only £4 available from:

Press tickets and scrawl down to the bottom.

 Alikivi   November 2022

AS I SEE IT part two with Tyneside photographer Will Binks

The previous post featured South Shields born Will Binks, who at 16 started a successful North East punk fanzine, in this second part he talks about his passion for photography.

Will can often be seen ‘doon the frunt’ at North East punk gigs so if you see him give him a shout.

Will in action at a gig in The Black Bull, Gateshead 28 July 2022 pic. Pete Turner.

After the fanzine and short-lived tape label I was ready for something new, and even as a child I always had a passing interest in photography.

When did you start taking photos, was it with North East punk band The Fiend back in the 1980s?

When I was eighteen years old, in 1984, I got a Pentax SLR camera and flash from Alan Brown’s shop on Frederick Street in South Shields. I took it to gigs and yes I did do a photoshoot with the lads from The Fiend.

(The Fiend featured on the blog in January 2021)

The Fiend in rehearsal rooms 7th September 1984.

However, it was a bulky camera, with film, batteries and developing not cheap at all. I was at the age where I wanted to socialise and enjoy a drink with friends, so I often left the Pentax at home and took out my parents’ Kodak Disc camera. It was pocket-sized and you just pointed and clicked.

Great I thought at the time, but in retrospect a mistake. The quality of photos was to put it bluntly, terrible. I wish I persevered with the Pentax. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?

The Fiend at The Station, Gateshead 14th December 1984.

What was the atmosphere like at punk gigs?

To be truthful, it was scary sometimes but mostly it was okay, although I know folk who suffered violence. There were times when you could sense trepidation in the air, and you just knew what was gonna happen.

Thankfully, I sidestepped any trouble but I definitely had a few lucky escapes.

There seemed to be a lot of that irrational tribalism between different areas. I never did understand folk wanting to assault someone just because they were from another town or city. I’m pleased to say that nowadays it is much, much better.

For you what is the difference between taking photos on film back then, and digital now?

Back in the day, I was restricted by how much film I could afford to buy and having the cash to get those films developed. It wasn’t particularly cheap. Photography was, and still is, an expensive hobby.

The good thing was once I had taken my pics and had the film developed that was that. You had your images and there was no post editing back then.

Nowadays, your time is split between taking pictures then spending hours, if not days, at home editing your images to your own specifications. It is very time consuming but I thoroughly enjoy it.

I’ve always said I take pictures for my own gratification. If anyone expresses a liking for any, then I’m pleased, but I should stress that it’s not the reason behind why I do what I do. I am non-commercial. I am not motivated at all by financial gain.

Sunrise 12th September 2016.

Hard to say, I know, but what is your best pic?

A very difficult question. Regarding my live music photography, it changes constantly. Here’s one I took of a sunrise from back in 2016, something that I always enjoy witnessing.

Greg Graffin, Bad Religion, Newcastle University, 5th June 2022.

Where can people see your pics ?

I’ve had some of my images used in books and by bands on their record or CD sleeves. All I ask for in return is that I am credited, and that I get a copy of the product once released. I don’t think I can be much fairer than that.

All my pics are public and viewable in full resolution on my Flickr page. I invite everyone to follow the link and check out the many albums of pictures there. Hope you enjoy what you see.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/willbinksphotography/albums

Alikivi   October 2022

AS I SEE IT with North East punk fanzine creator & photographer Will Binks (part 1)

I know doing a fanzine wasn’t exactly momentous historically, however it was our small involvement in our local scene. It might not be important to everyone, but it was very important to some.

Will Binks at home in South Shields aged 16 in 1982.

After leaving school in 1982 Will was looking to contribute to the punk scene on Tyneside…

I never possessed natural talent or had the opportunity to play an instrument, I was never gonna be a vocalist by any stretch of the imagination.

Thinking back, I don’t think my parents had the kind of disposable income to fork out on a guitar, amp or drums. Times were tough back then as anyone from that era can confirm.

But I did have an admiration for the Sunderland fanzine Acts Of Defiance which I bought from The New Record Inn next door to the infamous Old 29 pub in Sunderland where many bands played. I would read the copies enthusiastically and wondered if I could do something similar.

Will set about typing stuff out using his sister’s typewriter.

I would be creative using Letraset or permanent black marker pens with stencils. I would cut pieces out of the weekly music paper Sounds and daily newspapers to create collages or backgrounds by gluing them together. Back then ‘copy and paste’ meant using scissors and adhesive!

For a name I saw ‘Hate And War’ in a magazine, that would fit perfectly across the top of an A4 sheet of paper. I cut it out and it looked great, so that was that sorted.

Obviously we didn’t endorse hate or war – quite the opposite in fact. To us it was just a great song by The Clash, and it was completely by chance that I found that cutting and it fit perfectly.

Were you working alongside anybody to produce the fanzine?

During that period I was very close with my cousin Paul Briggs. We would arrange to meet bands or write to those further afield with postal interviews. Basically I’d send them a bunch of questions and they’d reply with their answers in a week or two.

What bands did you feature?

We featured bands like Vice Squad, Dead Kennedys, U.K. Subs, The System, External Menace, Riot Squad, The Adicts, Instant Agony, and lots more.

We also focused heavily on local North East talent such as Uproar, The Fiend, Psycho Faction, Total Chaos, Toy Dolls, Sadistic Slobs, Public Toys, Negative Earth, Red Alert and tons of others.

Front cover for the first issue of Still Dying.

The next hurdles to overcome were how to get it financed and printed.

We were just kids relying on pocket money so things didn’t look good. Then I mentioned it to my grandmother who worked as a cleaner at the police station in South Shields.

I think the office staff turned a blind eye when she photocopied the odd knitting pattern but I’m grinning remembering that before anyone turned up on a morning my grandmother photocopied our fanzine in the police station offices.

She must’ve had some bottle knowing that getting caught could cost her the job she loved.

How many issues of the fanzine did you put out?

We put out two issues of Hate And War. Admittedly, they were basic and primitive but I mentioned this recently to my mate Nelly, he pointed out that ‘our whole punk scene was basic and primitive‘ – it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

We set about a third issue including interviewing Total Chaos at the Bier Keller in Newcastle where I crossed paths with Gary Payne. When I said wor – Geordie slang for ‘our’ – Paul had lost interest, he suggested going into cahoots with him.

He even had the new fanzine name and first front cover assembled –  Still Dying was born. If Hate And War was basic and primitive then Still Dying was a bar or two higher as we raised our game.

Where did you sell copies of the fanzine ?

We sold lots by taking them to gigs at places like The Station in Gateshead and The Bunker in Sunderland. We’d ask folk if they fancied buying a fanzine and before we knew it they were gone. We had some for sale in Volume Records in Newcastle and lots were sent out by mail-order too.

I’m guessing we got about 200 of each issue printed and they all sold. The two issues of Hate And War sold for 10p, and Still Dying was a bargain at 20p.

My grandmother helped again by getting the first issue of Still Dying photocopied. We put out three issues of Still Dying during 1983 which I’m still proud of.

The second issue was printed by a lad called Ian, who did Testament Of Reality fanzine and owned his own photocopier. The third and final issue was printed by our friend’s sister who did Edition Fanzine.

By the end of that year Gary bowed out saying he’d completed what he set out to achieve and left me to forge on. My intentions were to continue but it wasn’t the same, so I gave everything we had typed out with all the artwork for our proposed fourth issue to a lad called Marty.

It featured in his fanzine ‘Remember Who We Are’. After that, I did pursue a short-lived tape label before stepping back altogether.

Interview with The Adicts from issue three.

Do you think the fanzine had an impact on those who bought it ?

In recent years some folk have told me that they still own the issues they bought back in 1983. They’ve kept our little fanzine for nearly four decades, so it must’ve left some impression on them. I’ve heard good comments over the years and even the suggestion that we should resurrect it.

Next up read As I See It part two with Will Binks talking about his passion for photography.

Alikivi   October 2022