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

SOUNDS CLIPS : ANGELIC UPSTARTS

I’ve come across some grand postings on social media by archivist, Stig Chivers. He’s added articles from Sounds music paper 1975-80, some have featured bands from the North East.

In the 18 August 1979 edition is a Garry Bushell live review of the Angelic Upstarts gig at the Nashville in London.

Angelic Upstarts in Sounds 18 August 79

In a recent interview with music journalist Phil Sutcliffe, Phil talked about the Upstarts and remembers a gig in Newcastle which was a spin off from the Bedrock programme broadcast by BBC radio Newcastle.

‘Putting the Angelic Upstarts on before North East band Neon at the Bedrock festival proved to be a mis-judgment as a huge fight ensued, a rather one-sided affair given Neon fans were student’ish and Upstarts fans were from South Shields’.

Brian Rapkin from Punishment of Luxury remembers that infamous gig…

‘We were bottom of the bill and during our set someone lobbed a can at the stage. I caught the can and put it in my pocket. Later the Upstarts charged the stage. There was carnage, people beaten up, blood everywhere, the police came and made the rioters walk home to South Shields without their shoes’.

For more articles from Sounds Magazine 1975-80 by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers check twitter:  @SoundsClips.

For further posts about Sounds type in: ‘Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer’ in the blog search bar.

Read about the Angelic Upstarts in ‘The Butchers of Bolingbroke’ here:

THE BUTCHERS OF BOLINGBROKE – Pigs, Gigs and Prisons with Angelic Upstarts | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

Gary Alikivi  September 2021

SOUNDS CLIPS : PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY

You will find some grand postings on social media by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers. He’s added articles from Sounds music paper 1975-80, some have featured bands from the North East.

Sounds singles review 9/6/79.

9 June 1979 issue carries a singles review featuring Newcastle post punk band Punishment of Luxury’s ‘Jellyfish’. Not a favourable review to put it mildly ‘Pathetic attempt to capture early seventies quirkiness’ ouch!

In an interview back in April 2021 Brian Rapkin (Bond) told me…

‘The first single after we signed was supposed to be ‘Jellyfish’, but the board at United Artists didn’t like it as an A-side so we reluctantly agreed to ‘Engine of Excess’ as the A-side’.

‘Then we signed to Screen Gems-EMI Publishing who gave UA a bollocking about the choice of A-side. So UA re-released ‘Jellyfish’ as the A-side. But by then it was too late to get airplay. The momentum was lost’.

The diamond in the dust amongst the reviews is a favourite in my top singles list – Babylons Burning from The Ruts – ‘Music to riot too’ shouts this week’s reviewer Garry Bushell. Yer got that right Gazza.

Also came across some pages from the Reading 1979 official programme, or the official title – 19th National Jazz, Blues & Rock Festival. The Jags are on the 3pm Friday slot with Punilux at 4.30pm. Motorhead take the stage as the sun goes down. Scorpions and Ramones headliners on Saturday and Sunday.

Look out for Penetration and Angelic Upstarts on the next Sounds Clips posts.

Full interviews with Punishment of Luxury:

FUNK OFF – The Punishment of Luxury & further tales of musical adventures. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

FROM NEWCASTLE WITH LOVE – part one of an interview with actor & musician Brian Rapkin. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

More Sounds Magazine 1975-80 articles by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers check twitter:  @SoundsClips.

Further posts about Sounds type in ‘Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer’ in the blog search bar.

Gary Alikivi  September 2021

SANTAS BAG O’ SWAG

If yer lookin’ for a Chrissy present to buy why not take a butchers at these goodies that have appeared on the blog this year. 2019 has seen nearly 100 interviews posted mostly musicians and also featured authors, artists, poets and TV presenters….

Gary James from The Tube, spills the beans on the groundbreaking ‘80s TV music show in his autobiography ‘Spangles, Glam, Gaywaves & Tubes’….

‘It’s a fabulous main present for ‘70s & ‘80s music and fashion fans you love, or a stocking filler for those you don’t. All for a paltry £12.99 (or cheaper if you can be arsed to shop around). Some bad language (he says ‘sod’ in it)’.

Contact  http://www.bookguild.co.uk

Lowfeye are musician/producer Alan Rowland and song writer Carol Nichol…

’Some songs on our album POW can be political or critical of society. I find the mainstream music scene along with TV celebrities really awful. It’s bland, it’s beige, it’s plastic and unfortunately we are spoon fed this crap by radio and TV’.

Contact Carol via Facebook and get yer copy at only £5 from paypal.me/lowfeye

The Fauves punk band formed in South Shields in 1978 and got back together 2016, bassist Bri Smith…

I’ve got the perfect stocking filler for xmas for all you punks out there – The Fauves latest cd album ‘Back off World’. Most of the songs were written between 1978-81. There is a couple of new tracks and we think it has come out really well. Have a wonderful xmas you won’t be disappointed’.

Get yer copy from Goldies opposite South Shields Town Hall or contact The Fauves on their official website  thefauves.wordpress.com

The Attention Seekers have a regional feel about some of their songs which gain’s regular play on local radio and at St James’ Park. Guitarist, Alan Fish…

If you’re looking for a chilled Xmas why not relax to the sounds of the latest CD from The Attention Seekers ‘A Song for Tomorrow’. Or if you’re looking for something more action-packed why not start Xmas Day singing along with ‘The Fans’ version of ‘The Blaydon Races’. Physical copy of ‘A Song for Tomorrow’ available from  

http://www.the-attention-seekers.co.uk/shop.html 

or download from the iTunes store.

‘The Blaydon Races’ at   https://open.spotify.com/album/6RdXvJhnJxwgPubsFU0cvz 

Gary Alikivi   December 2019.

GROUND ZERO – in conversation with Bri Smith & Bob Rowland from Tyneside punks THE FAUVES

The Ground Zero for Punk on Tyneside was 1977.

For many kids there was no work, no hope and no future as the Queen drove by celebrating her Silver Jubilee. The only highlight that summer was when the King came to town – Muhammed Ali had his wedding blessed.

But on one notorious night at the Civic Hall in Jarrow, a major turf war descended into chaos. It was a night that changed lives. Out of the ashes came a band that focused all the anger and frustration on Tyneside.

We know the story of the main protagonists, the Angelic Upstarts, who went on to Top of the Pops, gigs in New York and notoriety. But what happened to the others who were on stage that night?

First, we need to go back and find out who lit the fuse of punk. On the east coast of USA the sound of raw guitar driven rock n roll was making a noise, and the UK was listening.……

Bri: It all seemed to happen so quickly. After listening to rock music in the early ’70s Hodge, an old school mate introduced me to The Stooges, MC5, Ramones etc That stuff knocked me out.

Hodge, who was learning to play guitar, was down London when the punk scene kicked off. He came back to Shields and told us about this punk thing happening down there with bands like the Pistols, Damned and The Clash.

Another school mate Ski invited me round to his house to listen to the Pistols single Anarchy in the UK. It was so good we played it ten times. Ski knew I had a bass, he had some drums, so we had an idea to start a band

One Friday night we met in the Mermaids Tale pub in Shields, Mensi was always in there and we had a good bit crack with him about the punk scene that was kickin’ off.

We arranged to go to Seaburn Hall near Sunderland to see The Jam. They were absolutely brilliant. Then we saw The Clash on the White Riot tour those two bands really influenced us.

We saw lots of other bands around that time but those two stood out. So that was it, we all said, ‘Let’s get this band together’. Hodge called the band the Upstarts and Mensi added the Angelic bit.

The Jam played the Seaburn Hall on 17th June 1977, £1.00 entry. Price for act was £670. Vibrators & Penetration played 1st July £1.00 entry and on the bill for 8th July were The Saints & Straw Dogs £1.00 entry. Taken from the excellent book ‘A Promoters Tale – Rock at the Sharp End’ by Geoff Docherty with a forward by John Peel.

Bri: There was a DJ from Shields called Billy Cooper and he used to run discos around the town. He had a disco at Jarra’ Civic Hall and arranged for us to play our first gig there.

A week beforehand some of the band and friends checked out the venue to see what gear was needed but when the lads got to the hall a gang attacked them.

Next day The Shields Gazette reported that our mate Skin Brown had to get four stitches above his eye. At first, we thought about calling it off, but we said stuff it, and went ahead with the gig.

Bob: It was reported that they were attacked cos the way they dressed. What people forget is at that time if you walked around dressed like a punk you got filled in. If you had straight drainpipe pants and short spikey hair you got a strange look.

Bri: On the night of the gig the place was packed – you could say there was a bit of an atmosphere when we arrived. It was the Angelic Upstarts first and only gig with the line-up of Tommy Mensforth up front, Col Hodgson and Mond Cowie on guitars, Leon Slawinski on drums, John Halliday on sax and me on bass.

You couldn’t hear the sax much that night, but I can remember Hal wearing a white boiler suit. The place was packed full of Jarra lads we also brought a big squad up from Shields.

During our set Skin Brown turned Hodge’s guitar up really loud so Mond pulled his lead out and Hodge walked off stage. Then the fighting broke out. It ended up a riot because of the previous trouble.

I spotted me mate Kev Charlton (Hellanbach bassist) in the audience and pulled him out. We got most of the Shields lads backstage cos they were getting battered off the Jarra’s. It looked like they had it all planned.

Next day word got round and the whole night and band became more notorious with the punk and violence thing. We weren’t asked back.

After that gig Mensi and Mond went down a different path, got signed to big record labels and lived in London. Our band The Fauves were formed, and we played mostly in the North East but were finished around ’81.

Nowadays Hal lives in Los Angeles he’s a top film producer and Ski lives in Spain, he’s an electrical engineer.

Who were your early influences in music ?

Bob: We knew each other from the shipyards, we were apprentices together. I had been playing in other bands for a few years, so it was good to hear Bri was in a band looking to do something. By then I’d heard the Damned and The Clash and thought they were amazing.

It changed people’s consciousness of you didn’t have to sit and play in your bedroom for four years until you were a virtuoso. It’s a cliché but put three chords together and make a band, then it is all about getting the confidence to put a band together.

Bri:  I was into the rock scene but the Stooges, Ramones, Clash etc really influenced me in the early days. Kev Charlton (Hellanbach/Bessie & the Zinc Buckets) was living next door. I was always buying records Kev was never away from the door ‘Can I borrow this, can I borrow that’ ya knaa.

Then when I got a bass he was around again, knocking on my door ‘Right I’m getting one of them’ (laughs).

We used to blast out records and play guitars in my bedroom. This was maybe around ‘75 or ‘76 just before the punk scene. We had a great time when we were young ‘un’s, listening to music constantly. Kev’s not a bad bass player now, he’s left me for dead hasn’t he (laughs).

In the early days where did the Angelic Upstarts rehearse ?

Bri: We started rehearsing at The Dougie Vaults in Shields, we got chucked out so we went to the West Park pub and they chucked us out as well. This was a time when people didn’t want anything to do with punk you know, we ended up rehearsing in Percy Hudson Youth Club.

In the early days Hal (John Halliday) and Mensi wrote most of the lyrics and everyone mucked in with the riffs. Hodge (Col Hodgson) was struggling a bit on guitar, so Mensi brought Mond Cowie in. That’s when we started rehearsing a few times a week.

The Jarrow gig caused a split in the band. Who went with who ?

Bri: After the gig at the Civic Hall, Hodge was a bit pissed off and wanted out. I was good friends with Ski and Hodge so stayed with them and we called ourselves The Fauves.

Mensi and Mond went their way, got Micky Burns in on bass and Decka Wade in on drums. There were no hard feelings and we all remained friends.

Sadly, Hodge died last year and Mensi said if it wasn’t for Hodge there wouldn’t have been any Upstarts. Which was good to hear him say that and remember Hodge.

After the Jarra Civic Hall gig the Upstarts started gigging regularly around the North East and at Bolingbroke Hall in South Shields where we were lined up to support them.

We couldn’t find a good guitarist, so we got a hippy lad called Micky Carr to help us out. Micky had long hair so to hide it we put a bathing cap on him (laughs). But in the end we were pulled from the gig. To this day I don’t know why.

I left the band for a while and two lads from Newcastle came in, and eventually supported the Upstarts at Bolingbroke Hall and the pigs head made it’s appearance. (See previous interview with Angelic Upstarts, ‘The Butchers of Bolingbroke June 1st 2017)

Did The Fauves have a manager to arrange gigs?

Bob: Nah we didn’t even have a van. We used to pile our gear in a car. When the Upstarts left for London and got signed there was a vacuum left in Shields. People came to see us and we built up a bit of a following.

We had a rehearsal place in the upstairs of The Neptune Hotel in Shields. It’s not there now but it was a massive pub and we used to put on gigs downstairs. It was great that the manageress let us have the run of those rooms.

Bri: We used to play a lot then and get support bands in. One of the bands said The Neptune was the worst place they had ever played.

One guitarist told me he went to plug his amp into the wall and it still had like an old fashioned coil connection, he had to sort out an extension cos it was that old (laughs).

Bob: I remember we decided to play our own gig at Boldon Lane Community Centre in South Shields. We booked the hall, hired p.a, got a support band, posters, the lot. We were amazed when hundreds turned up.

Bri: We were playing regular gigs around ‘79 and used to contact Gary Bushell at Sounds newspaper and he printed some good stories about the band. He helped us out a lot.

Then we started to play the Gosforth Hotel in Newcastle. A small punk scene was starting to happen up there.

Bob: We also became mates with a label in Newcastle called Anti-Pop who promoted gigs and made a few singles. We supported Arthur 2 Stroke and The Noise Toys up there.

One Saturday afternoon we played a great gig at The Casablanca in Newcastle. There was three bands on, it used to attract quite a crowd ya’ kna’. Inside it was done out with wicker chairs, palm trees, ceiling mounted fans and a picture of Humphrey Bogart on the wall.

Bri: Yeah it was a great gig, really popular, but we didn’t know it was a gay club (laughs).

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Did The Fauves go in the studio ?

Bob: We always planned to do some cos it was the days of do it yourself. But we didn’t really have the money for it. Studios were expensive then. It’s one of my main regret’s that we didn’t record anything from that time.

Bri: We booked a session at Impulse Studio in Wallsend for a Monday and we picked two songs we were going to put out on a single. We went to our last rehearsal on the Saturday night and it ended up in a big argument.

What was that over ?

Bri: Nothing really.

Bob: We were just kids.

Bri: It was like ‘Hey we’ve got to get this right we’re in the studio Monda’.

Bob: I think it was a bit of frustration at the lack of getting nowhere. We weren’t making progress. We wanted to get signed and move on.

Bri: I remember going outside with Abbo, who was singer then, and just saying ‘Hey this isn’t working is it’. We drove home that night, you could hear a pin drop no one spoke a word.

That night in total silence the band left their rehearsal room under the railway arches in Newcastle.

Next day a phone call was made to Impulse Studio cancelling the session. But Bri remembers a recording……

Bri: There was a reel to reel three track demo that was made at Impulse Studio. I think it was Hodge or Ski who took hold of it and tried to get some tapes made but it disappeared.

There’s also a Newcastle radio interview hosted by music journalist Phil Sutcliffe, that’s also gone so we’d love to hear them again if anyone can help.

Bob: The band had just about folded by ’81 and to be fair me and Bri did go on to play and record in many other bands but The Fauves was the best band we played in.

We were always disappointed that we never recorded anything with The Fauves so when we got together again three years ago I had in mind to record half a dozen original tracks that we done years ago.

It went really well so we thought can we put enough material together to make an album. Subsequently we’ve made two albums and an EP since then.

We recorded tracks at The Garage Studio in South Shields and the engineer Kyle worked with us to get the sounds we were thinking off.

Bri: Most of the songs off ‘Back Off World’ were written between 1978-81. There is a couple of new tracks and there’s been a few line-up changes over the years, but we think it has come out really well.

Bob: We’ve played some canny gigs lately and to be fair it’s probably been more enjoyable than first time around. We have a few gigs lined up with the new line up of Mick Smith (vocals) Allen Hughes (guitar) Bri Smith (bass) & Bob Rowland (drums).

The first one in Newcastle at Trillians on 11th November, then The Wheatsheaf, Sunderland 23rd November and the Philadelphia Club, Houghton le Spring 14th December.

For further info, gig dates, cd releases contact   https://thefauves.wordpress.com/

or via Facebook at  The Fauves punk band

Interview by Gary Alikivi    September 2019

THE HOUSE THAT OLGA BUILT – with Toy Dolls frontman

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In 2019 The Toy Dolls will celebrate 40 years of being in the business but back in 82 The Dolls played in the foyer of live British tv music show The Tube, broadcast from Tyne Tees Studio in Newcastle.

While ripping through ‘She Goes to Finos’ behind the band was a huge yellow backdrop and bank of tv screens.

Presenter Muriel Gray said “That incredibly energetic and slightly mad bunch are The Toy Dolls. A Sunderland based band. They were signed with EMI but unfortunately EMI let the contract lapse after only 12 month and one single. But happily a two man Newcastle based recording company called Volume snatched them back from impending obscurity. Well hope they are favouring(?) any damage done in the foyer”.

When did the music bug hit you Olga ?

‘I got into playing music after watching Suzi Quatro on Top of the Pops. I knew from that moment what I was gonna do! Be a bass player.

I saved up for a bass guitar for a year by doing a paper round, but when I went to buy it, it had gone up by £1! So I just bought a guitar instead’.

Early influences for Olga were Dr Feelgood, Status Quo, The Pirates…

’Also listened to Slade, Suzi Quatro, The Sweet, Eddie & the Hot Rods and most of the early Punk bands, The Jam/Clash/Pistols’.

Since ’79 many drummers have been and gone, plus a few bassists, but the line up for The Toy Dolls in 2018 are Olga: Guitar & Lead Vocals. Tommy Goober: Bass & Vocals. The Amazing Mr Duncan: Drums & Vocals.

Olga and Duncan both live in London and Tommy lives in Germany.

Back in Sunderland during the late 70s Olga played in local band ‘Straw Dogs’ then formed The Toy Dolls…

‘Started in October 1979 and for a long time we just played locally around the North East UK. Then the Angelic Upstarts gave us a support slot on their UK tour, to whom we are eternally grateful.

In 1985 we met our manager, Dave (RIP). He got us gigs worldwide for the next 30+ years’.

When you were based in the North East where did the band record ?

‘At first it was Guardian Studios in Pity Me, Durham. That was where we always went from the beginning and for many years to follow. I think it was about £40 a day then, which was expensive for the early ’80s.

We recorded singles mainly, until 1983, when we recorded our first album Dig That Groove Baby’.

At a time when Eurythmics, George Michael and Spandau Ballet were regularly hitting top ten and the Band Aid single was number 1, The Dolls crashed the UK singles chart in December ’84 with a cover of ‘Nellie the Elephant’. It entered the chart at 16 and reached number 4.

They also filmed a music video for one of their songs at Penshaw Monument in their hometown of Sunderland. The band also recorded some TV appearances…

‘Yep quite a few. The usual pop shows in the UK like Razzmatazz, Top of the Pops and quite a few TV shows in Germany, Holland and Switzerland’.

Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ?

‘Ha, too many to mention. One story I will never forget is the first time we played in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A skinhead managed to climb over 4,000 people, through the security, got on stage and smashed me in the face, knocking my tooth out. And he was a fan can you believe!

He even came backstage after the gig to say how much he loved the show. No apology though!’

 After being involved in music for over 40 years what does music mean to you ?

‘What else am I gonna do ! Busy writing a new Toy Dolls album at the moment, and almost finished! “Music was my first love and it will be my last”…. Ha, pass me the sick bucket, though its true!’

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Along with writing a new album, the rest of the year has a couple of live European dates in December including a sold out show in Geneva.

With a feature on the bands website ‘Ask Olga’ where fans ask questions about touring, records or Olga’s chewing gum – he’ll always be busy. Go on ask him!

http://www.thetoydolls.com/index.html

Interview by Gary Alikivi   November 2018.

For more Tyneside stories why not subscribe to the ALIKIVI  You Tube channel.

GUARDIAN RECORDING STUDIO #4 Metal on Tyne with Mythra, Saracen & Hollow Ground

Guardian Sound Studios were based in a small village called Pity Me in County Durham, North East UK.

There are various theories on the origin of the unusual name of the village – a desolate area, exposed and difficult to cultivate or a place where monks sang ‘Pity me o God’ as they were chased by the Vikings.

Whatever is behind the name it was what happened in two terraced houses over 30 years ago that is the focus of this blog. They were home to a well-known recording studio.

From 1978 some of the bands who recorded in Guardian were: Neon, Deep Freeze and Mike Mason & the Little People. A year later The Pirahna Brothers recorded a 7”.

1979 saw an E.P from Mythra and releases in 1980 from Hollow Ground, Hellanbach and a compilation album, Roksnax.

From 1982 to 85 bands including Red Alert, Toy Dolls, Prefab Sprout, Satan, Battleaxe and Spartan Warrior had made singles or albums. I caught up with a number of musicians who have memories of recording in Guardian… 

MYTHRA – Death and Destiny 7”EP 1979. Tracks: Death and Destiny, Killer, Overlord, UFO.

MYTHRA

JOHN ROACH (guitar): ‘With Mythra we saved some cash from our gig money with the intention of recording a demo tape to see if we could get any interest from record companies.

We checked out Impulse and Guardian studios and decided to go with Guardian. From what I remember we were offered actual vinyl records for our demos, rather than cassette tapes’. 

MAURICE BATES (bass):  ‘The first recording session was a new experience and opened our eyes to another part of being in a band. The owner Terry Gavaghan was more of an engineer than producer, he just said to us no slow songs lads keep it up this is good ! 

JOHN ROACH: ‘Guardian Studios was in a very small, terraced house in Durham. If you entered from the front street you ended up in the main recording room, with a very small isolation room for the drums.

Through a door you entered the control room which was actually the back of the house. Terry Gavaghan lived next door. He kept disappearing during the recording, going for something to eat or answer the phone to the big record companies!

MAURICE BATES: ‘We slept upstairs to the studio so we could get on with recording straight away in the morning. But as we were recording our own bit separately, everyone else had to leave the studio so we ended up in the pub! Happy days’.

JOHN ROACH: ‘We released the vinyl EP in November 1979. It is well documented that this was one of the very first records to be released of what would become known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’.

HOLLOW GROUND – Flying High 7’ 1980. Tracks: Flying High, Warlord, Rock On, Don’t Chase the Dragon.

HOLLOWGROUND

JOHN LOCKNEY (drums): ‘Because we had our own material, we were trying to get the money together to get in the studio and record it. It was so nerve wracking then cos we were green as grass. Doing overdubs and things something we had never done before’. 

MARTIN METCALF (guitar): ‘One night we went to a Raven gig at Newcastle Mayfair and Steve Thompson who was producing at NEAT studios then, pulled me to one side and said there’s a deal at NEAT if you want.

I liked the idea but told him we had just sorted something out with Guardian. We went down to the studio in Durham and recorded four tracks. It cost around £500’. 

JOHN LOCKNEY: ‘It really was great. I mean you’ve been brought up and bought singles. Now suddenly you’ve got one of your own. We were proud of the songs. We think they still stand up today and we went round selling them to local record shops. It’s still one of the proudest things I’ve ever done you know’.

MARTIN METCALF: ’I still remember the smell of the brown cork tiles in the studio and having to Sellotape the headphones on my head when recording as they kept falling off ! In hindsight maybe NEAT would have turned out better for us in the long run’.

JOHN LOCKNEY: ‘We went back to record another two for a compilation album Roksnax. The production and the way we played was better then.

We weren’t as green and went back again and done another four tracks for demos to flog around record companies. You can tell the difference how confident we were with more experience in the studio’.

SARACEN – Roksnax compilation LP 1980. Tracks: Speed of Sound, Fast Living, Feel Just the Same, Setting the World Ablaze.

roksnax

STEVE DAWSON (guitar): ‘We went into Guardian Studios where our friends, Mythra, had recorded their Death and Destiny EP.

Most of us were friends from school or through the scene, you know, being thrown together in this cauldron of New Wave of British Heavy Metal. We booked a day there and recorded three songs’. 

LOU TAYLOR (vocals): ‘I saw it as moving up to the next level and felt excited to be in the studio and something happening for Saracen. When we went down to the studio we first drove past the place and double backed on ourselves to find it.

It looked just like an ordinary house, later we found it was two terraced houses knocked into one’.

STEVE DAWSON: ‘After the initial recording session, we were invited to attend a meeting with the owner Terry Gavaghan who proposed an idea to us about putting our tracks on a compilation album. It was going to feature local bands Saracen, Samurai and Hollow Ground. So we decided yeah let’s go for it’. 

LOU TAYLOR: ‘I can’t remember much from the sessions apart from recording my vocals quite late at night and the drum booth being tiny. When Dave was behind the drums, we had to pass him refreshments every so often as it was such a tight squeeze to get in.

Terry was forever nipping out of the studio and coming back with a smelly cheese sandwich or something to eat, and he loved to talk about the resident ghost !

STEVE DAWSON: ‘The album was basically a ‘live’ performance in the studio with minimal overdubs. I spent my 21st birthday in that place…I’ll never get it back!’

LOU TAYLOR: ‘On reflection we might have been better off recording at NEAT, as they were more loud and proud, you know the whole crash, bang and don’t forget the wallop’.

If anyone has information or recorded in Guardian studios, it’ll be much appreciated if can you get in touch.

Interviews by Gary Alikivi.

Recommended:

MYTHRA: Still Burning 13th February 2017.

Lou Taylor SARACEN/BLIND FURY: Rock the Knight, 26th February & 5th March 2017.

Steve Dawson SARACEN/THE ANIMALS: Long Live Rock n Roll, 2nd April 2017.

Martin Metcalfe HOLLOW GROUND: Hungry for Rock, 18th June 2017.

Steve Thompson (NEAT Producer) Godfather of NWOBHM, 27th June 2017.

Richard Laws TYGERS OF PAN TANG: Tyger Bay 24th August 2017.

1980: The Year Metal was Forged on Tyneside, 11th February 2018.

ROKSNAX: Metal on the Menu, 9th March 2018.

GUARDIAN STUDIO STORIES

#1 TYGERS OF PAN TANG May 3rd 2018

#2 SPARTAN WARRIOR May 20th 2018

#3 STEVE THOMPSON (Songwriter & Producer) July 11th 2018

WRITING ON THE WALL – in conversation with North East music journalist, broadcaster & producer Ian Ravendale

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Ian Penman has been a television and radio presenter, researcher, producer and journalist for more than 30 years, generally writing as Ian Ravendale to avoid confusion with the Ian Penman formerly of the NME.

He returned to music journalism (and Ian Ravendale) seven years ago writing for Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Vintage Rock, AOR, Vive Le Rock, Iron Fist, Blues Matters, American Songwriter, The Word and many more.

Ian has interviewed literally thousands of musicians from multi-millionaire rockstars to local indie bands on the dole…

‘I worked in television for Border, Tyne Tees, Channel 4 and also ran River City Productions an independent production company based in Gateshead.

In addition to making lots of local programmes I also worked on national music shows including Get Fresh, Bliss and (to a lesser extent) The Tube. The Tube was shot at Tyne Tees Television’s Studio 5 on City Road in Newcastle. The site is now a Travel Lodge!

It was interesting going to the canteen on recording day for shows like shows like Razzmatazz and The Tube and seeing who was in. I remember standing behind Phil Everly as he got his cod and chips!’ 

‘The music programmes I worked on were mainly produced by Border Television in Carlisle. I spent a lot of time there in the 1980’s. At Tyne Tees I worked mainly in the Arts and Entertainment department. Anything different or off the wall it would usually be me doing it.

We produced a program about rock poetry, presented by Mark Mywurdz, who at the time was a Tube regular. For some reason Mark wanted to present the program just wearing a raincoat. Nothing underneath!

After we finished recording the show one of the camera men came up and congratulated me; ‘That was the biggest load of rubbish I’ve seen in my life!’  I did a lot of alternative stuff. Some was challenging but none was rubbish!’

Talking about alternative stuff, can you remember Wavis O’Shave ?

‘He had a number of names – Wavis, Fofffo Spearjig, Rod Stewart, Pans Person. When I was writing for Sounds he saw me as a way in as the paper liked the off-beat stuff. He was a great self publicist. And still is!

He once told me about getting £1,000 out of the News of the World for a tip-off about a forthcoming witches coven scheduled for Witton Gilbert-or wherever Wavis said it was!’ 

What can you remember about working on Get Fresh ? (kids 1986-88  morning weekend TV show produced by the regional ITV companies taking it in turns for Saturday and Border producing all the Sunday editions).

‘For Get Fresh and Bliss, Border’s 1985 summer replacement for The Tube, most of the guests came up to Carlisle the night before so I’d take them out. People like Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible from The Damned.

We’d go into the music pubs and clubs around Carlisle and people would love seeing them there. Rat got up a few times to play with some of the local bands. When I met him I said ‘What do I call you?’ (His real name is Chris Miller). (Adopts cockney accent) ‘Just call me Rat’. So I did. Nice guy.

At the time he was really hoping to get the drum job with The Who, as Keith Moon had recently died. Didn’t happen, unfortunately.’

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Bliss was presented by Muriel Grey and produced in Carlisle by Janet Street-Porter. We featured live bands, got them to play for half an hour, used two songs on the weekly show, then repackage the 30 minutes for a Bliss In Concert special.

There wasn’t that much going on in Carlisle at the time, so we had no problem getting local kids in as the audience.

One week we didn’t have a live band and I’d got an advance copy of the famous animated video for Take On Me by A-Ha, who at that point were totally unknown.

Graham K Smith, the other music researcher and I thought it was really good so I rang their record company to see if A-Ha were available and importantly if they could play live. A resounding ‘Yes, they can do it’ was the answer.

Bliss was aimed at a teenage audience so A-ha would have fitted in perfectly. Janet-Street Porter comes in and looks at the video and goes (adopts cockney accent) ‘Oh no, that’s art school stuff, it’s boring. Draggy!’ 

Border TV could have had half an hour of A-Ha playing live in concert for the first time in the UK. But no. The band she booked instead were King Kurt, a well-past their sell-by date punk band.

So up they come in their ratty old bus with dogs on pieces of string and a stage act that consisted of throwing slop at each other. We – or rather Janet – turned down what became one of the biggest bands of the eighties’.

When you were reviewing gigs in the early 1980’s for Sounds were there any bands that surprised you or were disappointed with ?

‘It took me a while to ‘get’ punk. I was never into the boring British blues bands and prog acts which still show-up on the BBC’s compilations of 70’s rock. With the exception of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band who I liked.

When punk came along it started to make more sense. I was also into what is now classed as Americana. Along with more-left field bands like Sparks and Be-Bop Deluxe.’

I’m reading the book ’No Sleep till Canvey Island -The Great Pub Rock Revolution’ the book mentions the early careers of Joe Strummer, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello…

’There were bands that were like a doorway between punk and the boring rock bands and Brinsley Schwarz, with Nick Lowe were one of them. I saw them play Backhouse Park, here in Sunderland. Dr Feelgood were another.

I saw The Damned support Marc Bolan at Newcastle City Hall and it was a short, sharp, shock. And I thought; ‘OK. What was that…?’

Phil Sutcliffe, my predecessor at Sounds did an interview with The Damned for Radio Newcastle’s Bedrock show that we both worked on. It was 30 seconds long and finished off with someone shouting ‘Oi! Who put duh lights out’!

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The big article you wrote for Sounds in May 1980 featured local metal bands Mythra, Fist, Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang and White Spirit. How did that come about ?

‘I was freelancing at Sounds, writing articles and reviewing gigs, some of which were of local bands. I was also working on the Bedrock program and one of my co-presenters was Tom Noble who was managing the Tygers.

I’d already written individual articles about the Tygers, Fist and Raven and Geoff Barton, the assistant editor at Sounds asked me to source a few more bands for a 4,000 word article. The North East New Wave of British Heavy Metal was born!’

NWOBHM had Iron Maiden in London, Saxon in Barnsley and Def Leppard in Sheffield….

‘Yes. As a reviewer I went as far as Redcar. A lot of the local bands I reviewed were from here in Sunderland, Newcastle and South Shields.

Sounds also had a guy called ‘Des Moines’, a pseudonym for a writer from Leeds called Nigel Burnham who is now an agricultural journalist and Mick Middles, based in Manchester. Between the three of us we had the north covered.

One time the Tygers of Pan Tang were supporting Saxon and I’d gone along. I’d previously written a review of Saxon which included something along the lines of ‘in six month’s time they’ll be back playing social clubs’.

At the gig Tygers guitarist Robb Weir came up and said, ‘Biffs lookin’ for you!’. Fortunately, he didn’t find me. Not yet anyway.’

Was there any conflict between watching a band that you weren’t a fan of and writing something positive about them ?

‘Geoff never said to me, ‘We’ve got a big metal readership here can you go easy on them?’ He never wanted me to do that. But I found metal bands easy to take the piss out of – and I did.

This stimulated very angry letters like ‘How dare Ian Ravendale slag off Ozzy. I’ve seen him and he was great’. I remember my opening line of a review I did of Ozzy, ‘What I want to know is how is Ozzy Osbourne so cabaret’.

I interviewed him a few times for Bedrock but my interviewees tended not to click onto the fact that ‘Bedrock’s Ian Penman’ was also sharp-tongued Sounds scribe Ian Ravendale.

One time a few years after the Sounds ‘cabaret’ comment I was working at Tyne Tees and on the Friday Ozzy was playing The Tube. The Arts and Entertainment office was next door and I saw him in the corridor looking lost.

So I went up to him and said ‘Hi Ozzy, The Tube office is just over there’. He thanked me and then said ’I’ve met you before haven’t I’. He still remembered me from the radio interviews we’d done’.

How did you get interested in writing ?

‘As a teenager I was a huge music fan and also into American comics. I wrote for a few comic fanzines then published some of my own which occasionally still turn up on Ebay. That gave me an insight into writing for public consumption’. 

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The Bedrock team with Ian sitting on the right.

What about radio? You were involved in Bedrock for nearly ten years…

‘Dick Godfrey was producing a program called Bedrock for BBC Radio Newcastle which featured interviews from national and gave local bands exposure which was otherwise very hard for them to get at the time.

I had always been interested in the nuts and bolts of the music industry and how it all worked and listened to programs like Radio 1’s Scene And Heard.

Dick had a feature called Top Track where each week a different listener would come in and play his favourite track and talk about it. ‘Some Of Shellys Blues’ by Michael Nesmith was my choice. This went down well with Dick so I asked if he’d be interested in me contributing features. ‘Yes but there’s no cash involved’.

Nesmith was soon going to be playing in the UK and I was going along to the gig so I asked Dick if Bedrock be interested in me trying to get an interview with him. ‘Definitely’ replied Dick.

So I phoned a record label I’d heard Michael was about to sign to and they gave me his hotel number. As ‘Ian Penman from BBC Radio Newcastle’ I arranged an interview, which I did a couple days later in London, the day after the gig. That was my start in radio’. 

How did you start with Sounds?

‘Phil Sutcliffe, who was the North East correspondent for Sounds, was a friend of Dick Godfrey and also worked on Bedrock. When Phil moved to London he recommended me to Geoff Barton, Sound’s reviews editor, to be his replacement.

Phil wrote a lot about the Angelic Upstarts, he liked the music but also had a sympathetic ear to what they were doing. He wrote the first articles about them. Same for Penetration, Neon and Punishment of Luxury.

I’d also been involved in the music fanzine Out Now which Tom Noble had produced, so I was becoming pretty proficient at interviewing and writing reviews.

I was out at gigs four nights a week and was known enough to be able to walk straight into Newcastle City Hall via the stage door. This put me in touch with Tyne Tees TV and when a researcher vacancy came up, I applied for that, got it and carried on at Sounds for a short while.

I also wrote a few pieces for Kerrang, which Geoff Barton had moved across from Sounds to edit. I wrote the first article on Venom. Yes, I’m responsible for Black Metal (laughs).

Then as now, my attitude was regardless of whether I liked the music or not if I could write something positive about local bands, and it was entertaining. I’ll do that.

If you write something negative about a local band, you could do them major harm. Also, a person in Aberdeen doesn’t want to know whether a band from South Shields are crap. Why would they?’

For the work that you were doing how important do you think research is?

’Some writers think of an idea then write a piece in support of that. I don’t do that. For me it’s about the facts and information presented in an interesting way. Opinions and personal taste are what they are. Maybe you like a band that I don’t. That’s fine.  But facts stand.

I do my absolute level best to write as accurately as possible. It’s really important for me to do that. Sometimes information comes from two or three sources. And if the information is contradictory, I’ll say that’. 

Any memorable incidents in your career ?

’I interviewed Debbie Harry at Newcastle City Hall when Blondie had just broken big. We were in one of the really small dressing rooms. It was tiny. The record rep said ‘Ok Ian you got seven minutes’.

He introduced me to Debbie who was standing with her back to me. She was leaning on a shelf writing stuff down. I said ‘Writing out the song lyrics ?’ She replied ‘Yeah, well I don’t really know them from the new album yet’. It felt a bit awkward.

I literally spent the next three minutes just watching her writing with her back to me, stunning in her jumble sale collection of clothes. Eventually she sat down and off we went.

All of this was fairly new to her, she had just been playing CBGB’s (small club in New York) and now it was to gigs with 2,000 fans like the City Hall. She was trying to get used to all this Debbie-fever that was going on around her.

By minute seven we were finally getting somewhere, and she was opening up when the record rep walked in ‘Right Ian. Times up!’

I did actually interview the solo Debbie on the phone for Get Fresh nine years later and she was much more forthcoming.  (The  City Hall interview is on Rocks Back pages if you fancy a listen. RB is a pay site but there’s lots and lots of great stuff up there).

For more information contact : http://ianravendale.blogspot.com

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2018.

GARAGELAND UK – with former punk vocalist Ian McRae

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During the 1980’s Ian McRae was vocalist with two Newcastle punk bands. The Mysterons and Phantoms of the Underground…

‘Hearing Pretty Vacant and Neat Neat Neat absolutely changed my life. Once I got into punk, I like many others just wanted to be with my mates and forming a band seemed an obvious idea. Although we didn’t have a clue how to go on’.

How did you get interested in playing music and was there a defining moment when you said, “I want to do that” ?

‘I think I must have been 10 years old when I remember seeing Jerry Lee Lewis on black and white tv……’Whole lotta shaking going on’…It was fantastic to see. That was my pivotal point.

I later listened to The Damned, Pistols, Clash, Stooges, The Doors and early punk stuff’.  

When did the band get together ?

’The Mysterons were formed when I was at school around 1980/81 and the original line up was myself on vocals, Micky Ruddock on guitar, James Bowes drums and Tom Emerson on bass.

Later The Phantoms of the Underground were formed and again me and Mikey guitar, David Craig on bass and David Stobbart on drums. I didn’t style my vocals on anyone really, wouldn’t know how to.

But I did admire both Iggy and Jim Morrison because of their freedom they used while singing.

Me and Mikey loved bands like The Rezillos and The Undertones. I also had the LAMF album by The Heartbreakers. One Track Mind for a rock n roll pop song it was the best single I heard.

We also loved the Ramones with their fun lyrics and fast songs. In very early gigs we did a version of Loose by the Stooges. We played that most shows’.

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The band wrote their own songs, who wrote the lyrics and the music ?

’Music was written mostly by Micky, and I chipped in with the words. He would have a riff going and we kinda clicked together and end up with a song’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play. Was it in the immediate area or did you travel long distances and did you support name touring bands ?  

‘Initially as the Mysterons we played The Garage, The Bunker and other small places in Newcastle. As the Phantoms formed our first gig was at at Spectro Arts with the New Kicks.

We then did The Station several times, Broken Doll, Bunker, Edwards Bar, Peterlee College, Middlesbrough University and The Guildhall in Newcastle.

There was a venue in Leeds with Chelsea. Gene October said over the mic that we were the best live band he had seen in years. He offered us support slots for two nights at the Marquee, but we had split up two weeks before !

We played with Subhumans, Chelsea, Amebix, Antisect, and others at the Station and the Bunker.

We toured Northern Ireland with Toxic Waste through the Rathcool music collective playing Belfast and the Antrim coast, Port Stuart and Portrush’.

How did that come about ?

‘We had a mate come manager, a guy called Conner Crawford. He was from Belfast and knew of the collective in Rathcool and set up an exchange with a punk band there, Toxic Waste.

We played over in Northern Ireland and brought them back to Newcastle. We done that tour on giros, we were all signing on the dole. It was the only time we got payed for gigs.

We were charging like three quid entry and got 90% of the door takings!

We played to 700 plus at Portrush, and got our first taste of a real encore, it felt mad. They were chanting for us to come back on….fantastic!

Then we went to Rochdale and Oldham with The Instigators from Wallsend and played some gigs there. Also, reggae played a big part. Matamba, were a reggae outfit from Leeds we befriended. They were an awesome band.

We all packed into Newcastle Guildhall for a gig…great times.

Also played with Conflict at some point, where we did a gig at Birmingham University with bands from The Station in Gateshead’. 

What were your experiences of recording ?

’In the studio we didn’t have a clue really. We had no management or direction. Instead of recording two excellent songs we just recorded eight in one go. With no overdubs.

Our first was a demo at Spectro Arts 8 track studio that cost us £90.00. Then we done a demo in Desert Sounds in Felling that cost £70 for 4 tracks.

Then back to Spectro to record a live demo in one take that cost £70’.

Have you still got copies of the demos and did you sell any ? ’I have a tape of all the demos, which needs to be put onto CD. I will be doing that soon through a local studio and try to clean it up.

Maybe put out a single on vinyl. Maybe an album – but that would be to ambitious and costly.

We sold demos at gigs and through Volume Record shop in Newcastle. We sold over 700 tapes which was time consuming as I had to copy them all on a tape to tape, then photocopy the covers. It was all do it yourself in those days’.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ? 

‘There were a few moments I remember from then. At a gig in Belfast people turned up wanting our autograph! That was weird, never been asked for a signature before.

Subhuman listened to our demo but didn’t like it at first. When we played with them, they apologised, said we were brilliant and would have liked to record us.

At a gig in Leeds, I went to the chippy and when I came back, I had to buy a ticket to get back in. Yep I paid to see myself.’

What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ? 

‘I run a youth project in the North East. A few years back we had a great scene going with band nights twice a month.

Looking back on that time being in a band is like being in a family. It takes over everything and was a fantastic time in my life.

You have to trust people with everything as you are sharing ideas and inner thoughts through writing songs. You also rely on each other as if someone lets you down you can’t play, which is the whole purpose of being in a band in the first place.

When it’s over it’s like a divorce, people who were close mates falling out, not speaking or trusting each other.

It’s a learning curve, but well worth it when you look at what you did and the fun you had. Happy days!’

Contact Ian at http://www.galleryyouthproject.org

Flyers by Netty and Northeast Underground. Pics by Brett King.

Interview by Gary Alikivi May 2018.

Recommended:

Mond Cowie, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, Angels of the North 12th March 2017.

Neil Newton, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, All the Young Punks 4th June 2017.

CRASHED OUT, Guns, Maggots & Street Punk 6th July 2017.

Steve James, WARWOUND, Under the Skin 9th July 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS, Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

Steve Straughan, UK SUBS, Beauty & the Bollocks 1st October 2017.

Carol Nichol, LOWFEYE, Radge Against the Machine 15th November 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS/WILDHEARTS, Comfort in Sound 15th February 2018.

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON ? with Anarcho/punks Decontrol

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Originally formed back in 1991 Decontrol have returned…

‘Still loud, still angry and still hoping to see the devastation of the Tory Party’.

Based in the North East of England the line-up is Neil (drums), Nick (guitar), Bry (bass/vocals) and Paul (vocals)…

’Here’s a story from on one of the first gigs we played when we reformed. Neil is very energetic behind the drumkit and was knackered near the end of the first set.

At the break he got up to go to the bar for a pint of water to cool down. We’d done a bit of crowd banter and then got on stage and started up the second set.

We signalled to him at the bar that the song was about to start. So in one movement he grabbed a pint, ran to the stage, sat down behind the kit, picked up the sticks and started the song right on cue.

A quality piece of timing. I doubt that we’d ever pull that one off as neatly again, haha’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs?
Paul: ‘Lyrics come from all sorts of areas. Social commentary is easy to do when you have so much shit going on in the world. War, animal rights, consumerism, religion, the system, facism; so much choice!

Sometimes I might have an idea of how a riff should go, but for the life of me I cannot play guitar. I have to try and hum the tune…badly.

More often than not it’s the rest of the band who come up with songs and I have a surplus of lyrics I can fit into what they produce. I might come up with the odd idea about the composition, but I’d say it is 99% plus done by the others’.

Nick: ‘I just play and play and see what comes out. I’m no Steve Vai so I just write what I think will sound good for us. I do think the fact that three of us come up with tunes make our sound varied. It works for us’.

Who were your influences ?
Bry: ‘Hearing Black Sabbath as a kid and being taught guitar by my Uncle. I listened to Crust and Hardcore bands such as Discharge, Wolfbrigade, Sect, Chain Of Strength, also Death metal and grindcore’.

Paul: ‘I’d been into Slade/Sweet/Wizzard as a young boy, then Kiss as a teenager and by my 20’s thrash and hardcore.

What made me get off my arse was when I saw ENT on Snub TV back in 1989. As well as going down to Bradford with Energetic Krusher that same year. I thought ‘I have to get into a band’ it took me a while, but I got there.

When the band first got together I was heavily influenced by Conflict, Discharge and ENT. I liked the idea of projecting the vocals in a clear way.

Nowadays, there’s a bit of Rudimentary Peni influence in there as well as a touch of early Hellkrusher, who are mates of ours’.

Nick: ‘Always listened to music but it always looked difficult. Then a mate gave me an old Kay Les Paul and 50 watt combo and showed me how easy it was to play the WASP track Tormentor and Killed By Death by Motorhead.

I haven’t progressed much since then. Mick Ronson was the person I wanted to imitate, thrown in with some of Ian Hunter’s song writing. I just loved music, not any particular genre.

I am just as much at home with country music as I am with hardcore. Peter Hammil deserves a special mention for just being involved with the oddest and most varied music ever created’.

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play?
Bry: ‘I started when I was 16, but I’ve played all over the world with various bands including Mantas from Venom. I filmed two music video’s with Mantas and appeared briefly on Japanese TV !’

Paul: ‘The band started playing in 1991. We’d supported the likes of Genital Deformities, Hellkrusher, Disaster and Hiatus. All the original gigs were in the local area at the likes of Images in South Shields and the Irish Centre in Newcastle.

The furthest we got was Consett supporting Mutant, whose drummer, Neil is now in the band!

Nick: ‘Played in Kent with the mighty SORB, East Kent’s best crust band. Done other bits and bobs but they’re secret’.

What is your experience of recording/studio work ?
Bry: ‘I recorded quite a bit, and it rarely goes to plan!
Nick: ‘Love it and do little bits at home. I’d spend more time in a studio working if I had time’.

Paul: ‘I’ve only been in the studio three times (1991 for the original demo and our two albums since 2015). I was nervous at first, but once I get into that booth with the cans on my head, I feel pretty much at home.

It’s been weird doing the albums as we’re usually feeding off each other in terms of cues but been segregated can cause a bit of an issue. We’ve done well so far and can only get better!

Have you any stories from playing gigs?
Paul: ‘Oh, yes! one occasion last year made me laugh. We’d played down Nottingham and our driver (Tony) was knackered after a long day driving us around. Well after dropping the van off, we all had a fair few drinks. He left early to crash out back at the hostel.

A few hours later we came back boozed up and try as we might, we couldn’t stay quiet. Bashing around the corridors with our gear and shouting as we entered the room. We put the lights on and there he was, still corpsed out. We thought he was dead haha’.

What are the future plans for Decontrol ?
Paul: ‘We’re currently halfway through writing songs for our third album. Which we hope to have out by the back end of the year. We’re also planning to record four new tracks and a cover song for a 3-way split CD with fellow Northerners Anord and our friends up in Scotland, Frenetix.

That will come out April or May, we hope. We’re also featuring on a planned compilation LP for Antifa, with an alternate version of a track from our second album. Not sure when that is due out but keep in touch on our Facebook page https://www.facebook/decontrolneuk.

Interview by Gary Alikivi February 2018.

Recommended:

Mond Cowie, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, Angels of the North 12th March 2017.

Neil Newton, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, All the Young Punks 4th June 2017.

CRASHED OUT, Guns, Maggots & Street Punk 6th July 2017.

Steve James, WARWOUND, Under the Skin 9th July 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS, Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

Steve Straughan, UK SUBS, Beauty & the Bollocks 1st October 2017.

Carol Nichol, LOWFEYE, Radge Against the Machine 15th November 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS/WILDHEARTS, Comfort in Sound 15th February 2018.