Tony D interviewed for Noisey (Vice) / Doomed To Extinction / Maximum Rock And Roll

Tony D (Mick Mercer collection)


I’m an intern at Noisey France (Vice magazine musical platform) and I wanted to write an article about Kill Your Pet Puppy. At first because I’ve been following you for ages and discovered loads of punk and gothy bands, and also because I truly believe KYPP delivers the best snapshot of the whole British punk generation.

I’d like my piece to demonstrate how a 6-issue fanzine from the early 80s redeveloped into an ultra thick database on the Internet, with pictures, scans, videos and plenty of incredible (and touching) stories.

For that purpose, I’d really appreciate if you could answer a couple of questions for me. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Here are my questions. I look forward to hearing for you and reading your answers.

Sarah: KYPP turned into a website in 2007, how did you come up with this idea? How did a six issue fanzine end up to be one the major showcase of an entire subculture and music of the ’80s era ?

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. The story begins with the Kill Your Pet Puppy page on MySpace, started in March 2007, and grows from there. The MySpace project was sparked off as a response to Ian Glasper’s book on anarcho-punk, ‘The Day The Country Died’ which was published in late 2006.

Glasper only concentrated on the music, doing interview after interview with bands. I thought Glasper missed the main point of anarcho-punk, which for me was life-style, so the original focus of the MySpace page was on the culture and life-style of anarcho-punk.

This page attracted a lot of attention as loads of photos of punks and gigs from the time were uploaded and each punk was named and the location was noted. This was radical for the time, when normally a punk picture in the media would have a caption along the lines of, ‘some punks’.

The naming of people, because they were known and the situations they were in were known gave the site an immediate authenticity; this led to more photos and stuff being made available for the site.

There wasn’t a lot about anarcho-punk on the internet at the time, it had been virtually scrubbed out of history, and a lot of people from the time were delighted to see it being recognised – their past being given a validity if you like.

We quickly outgrew the space limitations on Myspace (at that time – there is now no limit on photographs uploaded, but there was in early 2007) and set up a photobucket site for the ever-expanding photo-collection.

Gerard (Gerard collection)

This inspired the move to our stand-alone website / blog, Gerard of the band Flowers In The Dustbin offered to help me set it up and it was launched in October 2007.

The focus was initially on the life-style and culture of anarcho-punk, what we felt was an untold and important story. However when moving to the site it was decided that some of the cassette-only releases from the time would be a good part of this forgotten history to start with, and went about tracking them down and putting them on the site to download.

Gerard was an inspiration behind this as he had started putting Flowers In The Dustbin tracks on his own site from old cassette tapes. Two other people were involved in setting up the site, Al Puppy and Penguin.

Al Puppy (Mick Mercer collection)

Al wrote analytical pieces about the era, putting them in context of the times.

Brother Rob and Penguin (Penguin collection)

Penguin took charge of adding music –he had the technical skill to do this having just starting doing it for The Mob and All The Madmen Myspace sites.

So as you can see it was never intended just to be a site about the fanzine, but about the culture of the time. The name Kill Your Pet Puppy was used for the site title because that’s what I was doing at the time we were going to be covering, and those around at that time knew the name so it would help them discover what was going on.

Sarah: KYPP has a really human feature, it’s not solely about known or rather unknown bands, but also about people. There are loads of personal stories, squatting experiences, birthday wishes, and sadly obituaries. Could you comment on that human and very authentic nature?

Calling the site Kill Your Pet Puppy, and being written by myself and other people known from the time, certainly helped others know this was as authentic as you could get.

It struck a nerve in a lot of people; who liked the open, frank and non-judgemental way this era was being opened up. The more tales of life we got, the more that followed – sometimes as posts but more often in long comments. Each post would often result in a hundred or more comments underneath.

I think people want to tell their story, and say, ‘yes this really happened, I didn’t imagine it’. Reading other people’s version of events also contributed to jogging memories, ‘ah yes I remember that gig / squat / event’.  When this started happening the ball really began to roll and I realised how much people wanted this story needed to be told.

Tony D’s typewriter (Mick Mercer collection)

Sarah: Politically, your fanzine (and website) clearly advocates for anarchy. It was founded in 1979, the year when Thatcher came into power and imposed tough and quite reactionary politics. As the regime get more radical, people (especially young people) gathered and created communities on the fringe of society. In today pretty troubled situation, deadly final cuts on NHS and Euro scepticism, could a second wave anarcho-punk happen?

There is a lot of opposition today, better organised and more determined than I ever was. It was a conscious decision not to use the site for commentary on current issues, as that would take more time and commitment than I have at present. Politically Indy Media do a far better job of it than we could ever do.

A ‘second-wave’ of anarcho-punk as in the music and bands may well be happening, there’s certainly a thriving live scene as illustrated by the gig guide on the KYPP site. You’d have to ask the bands themselves if they considered themselves anarcho-punk.

Sarah: What I really enjoyed about KYPP is the whole bunch of anecdotes and facts about bands I went through. Is there one anecdote about that period that you particularly like?

Bob Short’s (from the band Blood & Roses) writing about the time is second to none: the tale of a Friday night attack on his squat by drunken scousers has to be read to be believed. It was printed in his first book, ‘Trash Can’, and also extracted for the site HERE

This post on the KYPP site has since generated 555 comments. Bob’s account of meeting a goblin whilst squatting a hospital is another really good anecdote of the time, and can be found in his second book, ‘Filth’, both books were published by Independence Jones HERE

Sarah: You uploaded plenty of records (from your personal collection?), and made it accessible to your readership thanks to Mediafire. Is that the climax of fanzine, providing directly music while reading a paper or maybe it encourage laziness and people digging less ?

Penguin (Penguin collection)

During the discussions with Gerard about the construction of the site, it was agreed by both of us, that I should ask Penguin who had previously helped out at the All The Madmen record label, and who was now creating interest in that label and interest in The Mob on the internet, whether he would be prepared to sacrifice some time helping us start up the site with uploading his collection of old cassettes and rare vinyl.

Penguin agreed to be part of the then embryonic site, and stated that he was happy to do whatever it is he does to put the posts with up loadable material onto the site.

All musical uploads on Penguins posts are from original vinyl or cassettes recorded onto his hard drive through his stereo system. Penguin has informed me in the past that he has not listened to these rare tapes or dusted off some of those rare records he uploads onto the site for many many years! The material is mostly from his personal collection but if a cassette or vinyl is lent to him, then the donor is mentioned in the post.

As the music started appearing we had lots of offers from bands to put their material up, and soon it was becoming a major focus of the site; all this unimaginably rare music being available to interested parties in digital format for the first time for decades.

Whether this has encouraged as you say, ‘laziness’, or begun people on a voyage of investigation and discovery – as they follow up from an upload – it’s probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

The long and informative essays Penguin often adds to his download helps I think, in inspiring further discovery and knowledge of these uploaded bands. It also helps the bands; It has certainly helped the revival and reformation of some of these bands, such as Part 1, the Mob, Hagar The Womb amongst others.

Being a font of obscure punk music wasn’t part of the original plan but it has really helped shaped the character of the site. It is impossible to give too much credit to Penguin for his contributions to the site and it’s best to see the music as less the ‘climax of a fanzine’ but as adding interest and contributing to the whole thing.

Sarah: Interviews, music downloads, pictures, flyers… KYPP is a really opulent database for the 1980s punk period. Is there even more to be uploaded, or did KYPP reached its stability as a well-documented punk platform? Do you have any upcoming project ?

You never know what’s out there. The ultimate project is to gather all that’s happened on the site and publish it in book form, but there’s still new stuff being unearthed or being written, such as this recent post from Del Blyben called ‘Degenerate’ HERE

Meanwhile Penguin continues to source new sounds and words, it’s not over yet!

Sarah: KYPP also features more gothy bands like Blood And Roses, Sex Gang Children or Current 93 and Coil, did you witness the arrival of goth among punk communities? Did they stirred together with punks and hung around, or rather stayed with their likes?

The two most common names on leather jackets were always Crass and The Ants; the two went together for most people with out a problem. As well as the Ants, bands such as the Psychedelic Furs and Bauhaus were also highly regarded. Of course this was pre-Kings Of The Wild Frontier Ants; after Adam went mainstream a surge of bands moved in to fill the vacuum.

These took on aspects of The original Ants and became, to cut a long story short, the Goths: I’m thinking about Theatre Of Hate, Southern Death Cult, UK Decay, Sex Gang Children and Blood & Roses. As Goth became bigger and evolved into the ‘Batcave scene’ it became more of a one way street with anarcho-punks liking goth more than goths liked anarcho-punk.

Bands like Coil and Current 93 came on the coattails of Genesis P. Orridge’s post Throbbing Gristle project Psychic TV and it’s accompanying Thee Temple Ov Psychic Youth.

The rear of 50 Beck Road Hackney – Base of Psychic TV and thee Temple Ov Psychic Youth (Penguin collection)

Brougham Road Hackney (Penguin collection)

Genesis hung around the anarcho-punk scene; in fact he lived in a house only a few streets away from, and had regular interaction with, the notorious anarcho-punk squatted street Brougham Road in Hackney.

Psychic TV swept through the anarcho-scene, this brought in more occult overtones and from this mix grew two new branches which can be linked to anarcho-punk: industrial music and Chaos Magic. Penguin and Al Puppy occasionally discuss either or both of these offshoots in their posts on the site.

Sarah: Squatting is an important topic in KYPP, what was the importance of places such as the Centro Iberico and the Autonomy Center? Which kind of role did you play there?

The importance of places such as the Centro Iberico and Autonomy Centre were that these were extensions of people’s squatted life-style, ‘Squat gigs for squat’ people, as Adam never said. It also helped that there was no charge to put on bands at these places so we could just go ahead, experiment and do it. If the gig was a disaster it didn’t really matter, it was just a laugh.

There was an eight month gap between KYPP4 and KYPP5 as the Puppy Collective (as we had become known) were involved in put on weekly gigs at the Centro Iberico. A quote from KYPP5 explains, “that centre is the reason for Pet Puppy not appearing for so long – too much was happening to capture the mood. The mood was ‘Do It’ not ‘Write About People Doing It’ so we were doing it.”

Large parts of London were empty at this time, so squatting was rife and not just limited to punks or hippies. Often councils turned a blind eye to mass squatting in their borough. Squatting was a way of maintaining a very low-income life-style as there was no rent to pay, the only cost being very little security. It became an integral part of the anarcho-scene, as often gigs were in the basements of buildings squatted briefly for the gig. The rave scene developed this philosophy with ‘warehouse parties’.

Sarah: KYPP seems to have a pretty intimate relation with band The Mob. Do you think anarcho-punk (and other kinds of music tackled by the fanzine) maybe had a more human approach, far from the big venue first wave punk finally reached?

We saw The Mob by accident at a free festival in Hampstead Heath, having gone to see a band called King Trigger. The Mob blew us away, and became a sort of figurehead for anarcho-punk as they both played lots of squatted and impromptu gigs and their sound / lyrics caught the mood of the moment. And became, as you suggest, ‘the human face’ of the scene.

Tony D, Tai Chi and teepee (Mick Mercer collection)

Not long after that festival members of The Mob and The Puppy Collective formed a housing co-op and moved into a big house together, 103 Grosvenor Avenue Islington.

It was all about the human approach. Anarcho punk evolved as a way of bringing together punks who felt disenfranchised by the original bands such as The Clash and the Banshees. People had moved to London to be part of the punk energy, then when they found there wasn’t any began to make the energy themselves. Some of this new energy became anarcho punk.

Sarah: I saw you have delivered talks at various events such as at the ICA, for Toby Mott’s exhibition ‘Loud Flash’, and answered questions at a South Bank event based around Jon Savage’s book “Punk: An Aesthetic”. Do you see yourself as a kind of punk sociologist, a true and trustworthy observer from the past generation?

Author Teal Triggs has done pieces on me at various times and invited me to the launch for her book called ‘Fanzines’ . At the launch I spoke to Malcolm from Housmans bookshop; he was putting on a discussion at the ICA, and asked if I was interested in being one of the speakers. Thus started my career as a ‘punk spokesman’.

The launch event I covered on the Kill Your Pet Puppy site HERE

I’ve found amongst music historians and even the standard ‘punk’ observers there is still a lack of understanding of anarcho-punk; so feel I have to go along and do my bit to re-introduce this era to history. The comments below that piece show the same feeling of resentment to so-called ‘punk sociologists’ such as Peter York who, as one commenter points out, pushes a philosophy of ‘punk ended the day I lost interest in it.’

Stewart Home was at the ICA talk, and he seems to have made a career out of going from talk to talk around the world. I admire his enterprise but only do the odd ones myself; where is the time to do everything we want to do? That’s the question.

I don’t know if this covers your brief to, ‘demonstrate how a 6-issue fanzine from the early 80s redeveloped into an ultra thick database on the Internet, with pictures, scans, videos and plenty of incredible (and touching) stories.’  But I hope it helps explain a bit about it.

Questions for Noisey / Vice collated by Sarah Mandois – 2014

Tony D (Mick Mercer collection)


Tony thanks a lot for taking time to answer my questions.

Kuurschluus: When did you first start Kill Your Pet Puppy? Did it originally start it as a fanzine, concert organizing crew, squatting collective? How many of you were involved?

It started as a fanzine. There were about nine people at the formation stage which whittled down to five as the project developed; some of those nine were in a band called The Last Words and concentrated on that instead.
The other areas you mention grew from being in the Ants / Crass punk scene at the time, we may have got involved with them anyway but certainly it helped having the fanzine as a focus for action.
Squatting: we were living in a squat at the time; in fact we were living in one room at the time, and only gradually took over other parts of the building later. We were taken on as tenants by West Hampstead Housing Association, who owned the building, and from our experiences with them developed the ‘punk’ housing co-operative known as Black Sheep.

Concert organising crew: when the Anarchy Centre began putting on gigs we got involved. Andee Martin was in charge of bands and the stage whilst we brought in food and drink as there was nothing there (Brett Puppy used to make veggie curries in the morning and we’d transport them to Wapping on the tube in the afternoon. A friend with a car used to buy crates of beer and drive them to the Centre).
When the Centre was closed down we were instrumental in opening up Centro Iberico to weekly punk gigs / events and transferring the name ‘Anarchy Centre’ to this school in West London squatted by Spanish anarchists. It was here we got more involved in organising the stage side of things, though Brett continued to make his veggie curries for this new venue.
Puppy Collective numbers: from the nine to the five to by Centro Iberico fifteen. The word ‘collective’ was used because a lot of people were involved but didn’t write anything for KYPP.

Kuurschluus: How many issues of the fanzine did you release? How many copies per issue did you print? Was it focused on politics as much as the music?

There were six in total over three years. How many were printed is a mystery, three different companies were involved in the printing at different times and each had their own way of doing things.

KYPP 1, 2 and 3 were printed by Better Badges. They had an agreement where we would only have to pay for as many or few copies off the fanzine as we wanted, at about 50% of the cover cost, rather than a full print run cost. What  Better Badges got out of it was they could print as many as they wanted and sell them at their stalls, via mail order and other methods they could devise.

KYPP1 (Penguin collection)

KYPP1 was a bit different to the following issues and was an experiment for both Better Badges and KYPP. The Ants were going to be doing a new years eve concert in London, and as matters progressed with the fanzine it was agreed that concert would be a fine time to have it ready and on sale at the Better Badges stall at the venue. Adam was in on this, and he rushed the front cover picture direct to Better Badges so it would be ready; 500 copies were finished in time and the Better Badges stall sold the lot that night! Luckily a copy was saved for me or I would have missed seeing it on the launch.
Some of the experimental printing in that first run was a bit too hard to read because of the yellow ink on white paper (!) and so it was agreed to tone down the yellow for the next run of that issue. At that point I have no idea how many more were printed, I used to go up to Better Badges and buy fifty or a hundred at a time to sell at gigs and sold about a thousand more before it was time for the next issue a couple of months later.

KYPP2 (Penguin collection)

KYPP3 (Penguin collection)

KYPP2 and 3 were produced by Better Badges under the same agreement, again I sold about a thousand of each and Better Badges sold whatever they sold. Joly of Better Badges later told me when Better Badges did a mail order offer of ‘10 mystery fanzines for whatever’ – I can’t remember the price they charged – there was always a copy of KYPP2 in the bag as it was such a good fanzine in terms of content, style and production no one could be disappointed when the bag arrived. How many went out in these ‘mystery bags’? I have no idea.

KYPP4 (Penguin collection)

Big A Little A printed KYPP4 and 5, which was an anarcho publishing company down the road from the Anarchy Centre in Wapping. We ended up here under the influence of Andee Martin who worked here. Ironically these anarchist printers were more hard-nosed than Better Badges and wanted set print runs for set amounts of cash.
To this end KYPP4 was definitely a print run of 1,000 and without the fancy colours all over the first three. There was a bit of colour on the front and back and the middle page spread on the Associates. Interesting fact: the gold on the words Kill Your Pet Puppy were handwritten with these new-fangled gold felt pens – in a session at Big A Little A one evening by several Puppies.
This edition sold out very quickly, at least 500 were sold at a festival called Days Of Future Passed.

KYPP5 (Penguin collection)

KYPP5 was printed in a run of 1,000, again little extra colour than on the cover. That’s all we could afford.

KYPP6 was first printed at a place called The Bus Company in Islington. It was hand printed on an old litho machine by myself using cardboard originals and a lot of grease as I remember. About 100 were churned out this way with red ink on gold paper and taken to Stonehenge festival in 1983.

This grand/cash-strapped gesture was a fiasco as of course with the low light levels at a festival red on gold was effectively invisible writing. But the 100 were sold (probably on a sunny afternoon!) I do not have a copy of this edition, but I remember it looked great.

KYPP6 (Penguin collection)

KYPP6 was reprinted in normal colours (plus a splash of colour on the front) in a short run of 500 or so and sold only through myself at gigs.

Kuurschluus: Was it focussed on politics or music?

That’s a different question and I’ll try and keep the answer brief. The music press and record companies had started to separate the music from the politics of punk, so Kill Your Pet Puppy had the intention of bringing both together again. ‘Politics’ in the shape of life-style and culture and thinking – we wanted to give as much space to what punks were doing in-between listening to their records.

Kuurschluus: I know you were based in various squats in London. How difficult was it to squat back then? And, are you familiar with current squatting movement in London, and the UK?

In 1977 when I moved to London I was lucky enough to be invited into a squat near Ladbroke Grove in West London. This was an area full of houses that had been ‘compulsorily purchased’ by the Council for a traffic scheme. The scheme was abandoned so the houses in this area were quickly squatted, and became known as ‘Frestonia’ after one of the main roads – Freston Road.

A lot of London was like that in the later part of the seventies, large areas of empty properties in good condition that no one really cared about. I remember after one Antz gig at the Roundhouse in 1978 walking a load of punks down to Central London and opening a series of squats for them in a big block of flats off Charing Cross Road.

Neighbours came out and offered us assistance in the form of light bulbs and toilet paper, these were amazing times; London was really run down and neglected. After I left Frestonia in February 1979 I moved into a squatting community opposite Covent Garden tube station on James Street and Long Acre – a complex of houses with internal links of staircases and strange hallways: with the ground floors old shop fronts.
There was a guide called ‘The Squatters handbook’ which had a page of the legal rights to squat which could be photo-copied and stuck to the front of a building when occupied. Just the sight of this on a door or window was enough to turn away any policeman or official.

Tony D’s room (Mick Mercer collection)

This was the golden squatting time for me; things got worse when empty buildings were deliberately vandalised on the orders of the council or whoever, to make them unpleasant to live in. This vandalisation was most apparent in the trend to pour concrete down the toilets. The houses remained unused by the official owners but now instead of squatters doing up the place and living in it, the buildings were only used as refuge by the tramp community.
Interestingly, organised squatters I knew moved into non-commercial buildings, where this vandalisation was yet to happen. In this period I lived in abandoned Fire Stations, Churches, Hospitals and Museums.

I am a member of several squatting groups on Facebook, some looking forward some backward. I admire those who attempt to squat nowadays as the legislation in Britain gets more brutal every day.

Kuurschluus: When and why did you decide to start KYPP as a blog / internet site? How different is it from the printed version of the fanzine? Would you ever consider doing another printed fanzine?

The Apostles room 108 Brougham Road Hackney (Penguin collection)

The rear of 108 Brougham Road Hackney – Base of The Apostles (Penguin collection)

The blog / site was started in response to what you got if you typed ‘anarcho punk’ into a search engine in 2007. There was one result, a sneering piece written by Andee Martin from the Apostles for Stewart Home’s Smile magazine. It was shocking that this whole era was being air-brushed out of history, so myself and Gerard of Flowers In The Dustbin decided to do something about it.

Gerard and Billy (Gerard collection)

We wanted to record the history of the punk that time forgot – yet which was very important to Gerard, me and everyone I knew who was around at the time. It was different from the fanzine as this was looking back and illustrating the era with people’s memories, photographs and long lost recordings of treasured bands.

Brother Rob and Penguin (Penguin collection)

Penguin was asked to join in the fun and was in charge of the music download posts.

Al Puppy (Mick Mercer collection)

Original Puppy Collective member Al came back to the fold and dealt with a lot of the writings relevant to the era.

From this enterprise the scene took off again, and many of the old bands have reformed and are now doing tours around the world – such as The Mob, Hagar The Womb and Hysteria Ward (who have just performed in Paris).
When I go and see bands like the Hagar The Womb or The Mob there’s members of new bands such as The Pukes there, and they carry the flag. I love these new bands and people too, for their enthusiasm as much and as anything. But I wouldn’t consider doing another printed fanzine to sell at these gigs – because the internet has taken over as the medium of choice now.

Kuurschluus: On your internet site you post a lot of interesting stories, photos, flyers, music. It’s like a huge collection, like a punk wonderland. I’ve noticed that besides anarcho-punk you post all kinds of music and articles. I’m wondering how similar or different are / were all those synth bands from Poison Girls, experimental bands from No Defences, how different PIL was from Smartpils? Where do you see connection between those bands, and what, if anything, sets them apart?

The connection between the different styles of music on the site is a certain spirit that comes through in the music and attitude, that is what sets them apart but also sets them together for us as a true Puppy band! At the time we saw no conflict of interest between Soft Cell, Crass, ABC, Throbbing Gristle or indeed Conflict.

Kuurschluus: What I didn’t find much of on your site are more hardcore /thrash /crust bands. Is that because these bands are not something you are personal into, or because you see them as something completely different from punk / anarcho-punk?

I remember being impressed with the live performances of bands like Antisect at the time, if that’s what you mean. This seemed to be a direction Crass’s record label was headed after they released the band D.I.R.T.’s stuff. This was powerful stuff but standing back it was re-introducing the guitar-solo and long pondering songs which punk had first set out to counter-act.

There was a whole wave of crust / hardcore bands based around Hackney’s Blue House such as 10,000,000 Dead Cops or something that I failed to connect with. Every time I went to gigs, in squatted basements it seemed like the last days of the Roxy Club – bands and fans with no spirit or aim apart from getting pissed and destroy themselves. But others loved it, so maybe I went to the wrong gigs.

Kuurschluus: For me, besides reading amazing stories from people who were directly involved in anarcho-punk back in the late 70’s / early 80’s, one of the most exciting things on your site is how diverse your music taste is. I love most of the stuff you upload. Reggae / dub has always been something I enjoyed a lot and have always found it very closely connected to punk (which not many would agree with). I first got exposed to it when as a young punk kid a friend lent me a tape by Misty In Roots- Live in Yugoslavia (part of the same series of live show tapes recorded in Yugoslavia were Poison Girls, Government Issue, Amebix, Swans and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). It was released by the Borghesia guys, on their FV Zalozba label (they organized concerts in Yugoslavia, did video production, recorded and released many influential tapes and records, including Hardcore Ljubljana LP). At first I was surprised to hear reggae band on the label which I knew for releasing punk bands but the more I listened to the Misty In Roots tape the more I liked it, and it opened a whole new world for me, world of reggae / dub / ska / bluebeat… Please tell me about your experience and exposure to reggae music. How relevant and political was it (I’m asking about political side of it because nowadays reggae songs are often about Sun, beach, weed, girls, dreadlocks)? Why so many punks in England liked and were influenced by reggae? What are similarities with punk?

A lot of punks would be living in parts of London where West Indians were also housed and we would naturally catch a vibe of reggae music from the streets and markets, specifically Brixton, Dalston, Hackney and Ladbroke Grove. A lot of Rockers Reggae would be protest music, just as punk music would become. Rough Trade records, Greensleeves and Daddy Kool all sold reggae records to the young punks. There was not a lot of difference between young black men being picked up late at night by the police than young punk rockers. A lot of pushing around, searching for drugs and so forth. A night in the cells would be the worst possible scenario. Most punks started off speeding, but a large amount would also like to get hold of ganja when possible, and to get ganja you would need to know a few faces to get it off from. The West Indian doormen and bar staff of the Roxy club in Covent Garden during the few months that was open in 1977, would supply already rolled up reefers to punks unsure of how to roll them. DJ Don Letts would play reggae records for the night between the punk bands performing. If you wanted the ‘real deal’ in sound system, you could enter the Four Aces club in Dalston as Joe Strummer, Paul Simineon and Johnny Rotten would or Tottenhams Club Noreik. The Clash and PIL (Metal Box period) would deeply influence the young punks with different textures and tempos to some of the tracks produced. The Ruts and Basement 5 would also be popular choices for a bit of punk and reggae crossover.

The National Front and British movement were huge in the UK during the late 1970’s, and the punks arm in arm with the young rastas, students and trade unionists would all be on the other side trying to disrupt marches and so forth. The Rock Against Racism gigs in 1978 and 1979 would have punk bands like X Ray Spex, The Ruts and The Clash performing alongside Misty In Roots, Steel Pulse and Aswad. Most punks got their live reggae experiences from these all day events. Bob Marley recorded ‘Punky Reggae Party’ in 1977 the B Side of ‘Jamming’ name checking The Clash, The Damned, The Jam etc etc. The Clash’s finest moment ‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’ from 1978 name checked, Dillinger, Ken Booth, Dillinger and Leroy Smart! There was a quiet respect between the white and black youth trying to get through the weekly stresses of defending themselves from the street fascist bonehead, rockers and Hoxton psychos and there protectors (certainly felt like that at the time) the Metropolitan police force.

Kuurschluus: Were you involved with punk in any way from the time you stopped doing the printed fanzine until you started doing the internet site? What were you up to all those years?

Tony D juggling (Mick Mercer collection)

Mark Mob began getting everyone interested in his vision of a travelling group of musical / circus performers; this was around 1983 and caught up in this I learned to juggle, fire-eat and unicycle. I took to these circus skills like a duck to water, the more so as the performance of them also lent itself to dressing up and wearing crazy make-up.
Mark’s concept never took off as a group but as an individual I began performing these skills, and took more and more clown-school and juggling classes. A later side effect of this was performing at the Club Dog nights and seeing exciting new bands such as Another Green World and Ring. But I’d moved on from reporting to the world about new music, as I became a world-travelling circus performer from 1984 to 2012.
Notably, when Benazir Bhutto took power in Pakistan in the mid-eighties I was one of the acts brought in to perform as part of her strategy to catapult the country into the current century. Now that was something, especially as I was living in a Hackney squat and went from that to chauffeur driven cars and being treated like royalty by the British Ambassador.

Kuurschluus: Do you like any new punk bands? Are you familiar with the current punk scene?

I feel like an old man when I hear new punk bands (I AM an old man) because I can’t stop thinking, ‘that sounds like that, that sounds like that, that sounds like that.’ It annoys me that my mind does that, and now I can appreciate some of the Americans around the London punk scene like Leee Black Childers and Peter Crowley. These guys were enjoying the bands of the times yet they had seen live stuff like Velvet Underground, Gene Vincent, the Stooges and the New York Dolls where all the tunes were coming from.

I try to put myself into the mind of Leee or Peter when I see new bands but it’s hard. I don’t mean I’m being cynical or closed-minded with my thoughts; it’s just they get in the way.
Back to the question; I like every band I see live and often buy whatever musical merchandise there is available on the night. But I don’t seek out new punk bands or go to places where I might read about such bands in order to find them. As for the current punk scene, it’s only people in bands who I meet at Hagar The Womb and Mob gigs, such as The Pukes.
If there’s another current punk scene I’m unaware of it.

Kuurschluus: Your thoughts on all those old anarcho-punk bands that reformed and are playing again? Is the UK as fucked, or worse, now with Cameron in power as it was back in the 80’s, and punk is a logical reaction to the situation? Or they are just a bunch of old jaded fucks trying to make a few quid and score a nice young girl or a guy?

The UK is worse than the fucked situation Thatcher left it in, now Cameron is in power. The country is in a grip of media propaganda that the only alternative than the Fascist Conservative party is the even more fascist UKISpit option.
The chance to oppose this situation has changed dramatically since MacLaren’s time, and Crass’s time: the two major cultural chances in my lifetime. But a lifeline is strange stuff like an ABC reunion, or an 80’s tour of pap bands – because the people who go to those things are people who start to remember a time when this country wasn’t so fascist, when it was more free and easy.
And so the 80’s revival created by the media (air-brushing out anarcho-punk, and all punk) feeds into the low-key, off-radar anarcho-punk gigs and whammo – Adam Ant is out of the asylum and all over the media and he remembers the support from me as a person and all I represent.

There are big festivals now all with old punk bands with massive audiences. I love it, though couldn’t handle being at one, there’s also bands with punk roots doing revivals such as Simple Minds, Depeche Mode, U2: these are feeding the punk / resistance fever with every on-stage breath they make, saying that Sting probably thinks he is too. And I think he’s right.
Anyone who straps on a guitar and goes in front of an audience and gives it some punk rock is a hero. I would never call anyone a jaded old fuck for trying to do what they love.

Kuurschluus: Thanks a lot for your time and dedication.

No problem, this jaded old fuck liked the attention.

Questions for Doomed To Extinction collated by Kuurschluus – 2014

Tony D (Mick Mercer collection)



I was the editor of one of the earliest punk fanzines ‘Ripped And Torn’ from 1976 to 1979.

After a brief self imposed exile to Europe, I got out my typewriter again and started the Kill your Pet Puppy fanzine which went on public sale at an Adam And The Ants concert in Camden, north London on new years eve 1979.

Some thoughts:

Kill Your Pet Puppy was started by Tony D, founder of iconic punk fanzine Ripped & Torn (1976-1979). Shortly after Thatcher was elected as prime minister in May 1979 Tony moved to Europe and lived a bohemian lifestyle. Upon his return Tony started work on a more extreme and uncompromising fanzine, initially as a reaction to the way the original punk movement had been sucked into the hated Record Industry establishment: something he’d seen and experienced at first hand.

Kill Your Pet Puppy also reflected punk life as it was under the newly-elected Thatcher cosh: squatting, skinhead NF and British Movement attacks, speed being replaced by tunial and scraping a rainbow life from the hell of reality.

Kill Your Pet Puppy was at the forefront of a cultural landscape and an alternative world of squats, squatted venues and self-sufficiency that became known as ‘anarcho-punk’. They were liberating times.

Getting the new fanzine out onto the streets proved a problem until Joly of Better Badges agreed to print the new publication (then title unknown) in as many crazy colours as Tony wanted. Both wanted to experiment.

A name was born in the puppy collective hell of one room squatted by eight people with no bathroom or running water. Kill Your Pet Puppy was the chosen moniker.

The name – Statement from Kill Your Pet Puppy issue number one – 1979

“The words kill your pet puppy are not about harming animals, they are about stripping away false and externally imposed responsibilities in order to see through the illusion of society’s conformist ‘real life’ that pins down, stifles and suffocates us.
The ‘puppy’ is symbolic of implements of the state forced upon young children, the puppy being often the first in a long line of instruments designed to teach dependence on worthless objects, enslaving the kid into a lifetime of obedience to an outside agent that demands sacrifice of independence to serve. The puppy’s cute helplessness forces an emotional responsibility that subverts our natural nurturing instincts as the kids parents use the puppy to force the kids experiences of the world into a state-prescribed conformist view of the ‘family’.
‘Kill’ means moving beyond enslavement and experiencing life at first hand; experiencing the explosive euphoria, which follows”.

The first issue was finished in time for the Adam And The Ants new years eve concert at the Electric Ballroom, Camden, north London in December 1979 / January 1980.

The Kill Your Pet Puppy collective who wrote articles, supplied photographs and helped with the layout of the fanzine were a loosely affiliated group of individuals that were drawn mainly from shared squatted accommodation at any of the times that a fanzine was being produced.

Lou and Lugworm (Tarquin collection)

Wolfen, Tony D, Nikky and Greenhair (Lugworm collection)

Gary and Min (Lugworm collection)

Gary, Greenhair, Val and Lugworm (Lugworm collection)

Wolfen (Lugworm collection)

Al Puppy, Brett and Elaine (Lugworm collection)

The collective would have contained at various times, Tony D, Al Puppy, Jeremy Gluck from The Baracuddas, Brett, Val D, Lou McGrew from Youth In Asia, Elaine from Hagar The Womb, Mick Lugworm, Wolfen, Min from Zos Kia, Dave from Sex Gang Children and Nikky.

Five further issues were produced throughout the following years by the collective up to the final issue, number six, which went public during the summer solstice of 1983.

The Kill Your Pet Puppy Myspace page started in March 2007

The Kill Your Pet Puppy blog site was launched on Halloween 2007.

Contributions to the site mainly come from Penguin, who uploads the music and the band biography posts (plus occasional other stuff), myself (Tony Puppy) and Al Puppy, when we find the time, contribute essays relevant to the era. Some of the biggest contributions though are entered by browsers in the comments sections attached to the posts, where topics take off and build to a life of their own.

The focus of the site and of the Myspace page was originally on the culture and life-style of anarcho-punk. This was inspired as an answer to the anarcho-punk book ‘The Day The Country Died’ by Ian Glasper released in late 2006 that only concentrated on the music which missed the point slightly…

As one who lived and survived throughout this exciting time I felt a major part of what the scene was about was being disregarded, and decided it was important enough to do something about. What mention of The Conway Hall and the meetings with The Persons Unknown and London Autonomists which begot The Autonomy Centre in Wapping, the Centro Iberico in Westbourne Park, colourful and chaotic free festivals at Meanwhile Gardens, Hampstead Heath and Stonehenge, the Stop The City protests in the City Of London (precursor to the G* protests), Gay Punks, Squats and housing co ops including the Black Sheep housing co op set up by Kill Your Pet Puppy collective members and B.A. Nana from Crass. The Zig Zag squat all day festival featuring The Mob, Crass, Poison Girls, Null And Void, Amebix, Flux, D.I.R.T, Conflict and many other bands, set up by the same folk mentioned previously.

Al Puppy (Mick Mercer collection)

Al Puppy, contributor to the original Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzines and ex manager of the All The Madmen record label was feeling the same way as I was, and would write up essays about this incredibly productive era of our youth on his greengallaway blog.

Brother Rob and Penguin (Penguin collection)

Remarkably Penguin, an ex All The Madmen record label slave, around the same time was also creating digital archives of this period specializing on the All The Madmen record label, the same record label Al Puppy had briefly been the manager of.

Penguin was also heading a site dedicated to one of the better bands of the era (and on the very same All The Madmen record label) The Mob. This was a site specifically requested for Penguin to create and moderate by Mark Mob, the vocalist and guitarist from that band.

Both sites were endorsed at the time of construction and are ‘official’ outlets of information to browsers interested in finding out about this record label and band.

The first plan was to write a book about the era, with contributions from various people such as Bob from Blood and Roses (whose pieces on the 3am site were inspirational).

As life got in the way of this plan, the Kill Your Pet Puppy Myspace site was launched to keep the momentum going, this site also managed to draw in bits and bobs from other people, notably some original Mick Lugworm photographs. This site attracted a lot of attention and photos and stories from other sources started to appear after a hiatus of several decades.
We quickly outgrew the space limitations on Myspace (at that time – there is now no limit on photographs uploaded, but there was in early 2007) and set up a photobucket site for the ever expanding photo-collection.

Al Puppy and myself discussed and decided to attempt a blog site away from Myspace and incorporating the photobucket photo archive.

Gerard with Flowers In The Dustbin (Gerard collection)

Gerard of the band Flowers In The Dustbin (another great All The Madmen record label band) offered to help me set up a blog site, which we discussed, worked on and was completed and launched in October 2007.

The focus was initially on the life-style and culture of anarcho-punk, what we felt was an untold and important story. However when deciding what to put on the site we thought that the cassette only releases of the time would be a good part of this forgotten history to start with, and went about tracking them down and putting them on the site to download. Gerard was an inspiration behind this as he had started putting Flowers In The Dustbin tracks on his own site from old cassette tapes.

During the discussions with Gerard about the construction of the site, it was agreed by both of us, that I should ask Penguin who had previously helped out at the All The Madmen record label, and who was now creating interest in that label and interest in The Mob on the internet, whether he would be prepared to sacrifice some time helping us start up the site with uploading his collection of old cassettes and rare vinyl.

Penguin agreed to be part of the then embryonic site, and stated that he was happy to do whatever it is he does to put the posts with up loadable material onto the site.
All musical uploads on Penguins posts are from original vinyl or cassettes recorded onto his hard drive through his stereo system. Penguin has informed me in the past that he has not listened to these rare tapes or dusted off some of those rare records he uploads onto the site for many many years! The material is mostly from his personal collection but if a cassette or vinyl is lent to him, then the donor is mentioned in the post.
As the music started appearing we had lots of offers from bands to put their material up, and soon it was becoming a major focus of the site, all this unimaginably rare music being available to interested parties in digital format for the first time for decades.
And of course, there were a lot of interested parties: I’m not very good at the figures but I think we have been getting around 60,000 hits a week on the site.

Penguin has continued to source and upload the most incredible stuff, such as a clutch of Crass rehearsal tapes and many many live recordings from the most obscure venues of the most obscure but much loved bands of the time. He has also uploaded many alternative mix cassettes by bands like Lack Of Knowledge and Poison Girls. Nowhere in the world have these tapes ever been issued, premièred only on Kill Your Pet Puppy (although no doubt by now, some bloggers would have ripped Penguin’s original links of his original material for their own sites – but that is cool).

It has been great to see the site grow through all the comments left on posts, which is the reason it was set up as a blog rather than a web-site: I wanted it to be a participatory experience and it has done that in spades. The site has over 700 comments on one post alone, and over 500 on another. The site to date has over 800 individual posts with over 15000 comments attached to said posts. Many many old punks that were around in the scene in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s have now found each other again through this site a long way before Facebook style ‘punks reunited’ sites were existing.

One young punk who was convicted of ‘murder’ in the squats of Campbell Buildings, Waterloo in the summer of 1980 when he was still a teenager has recently been sent letters of support and presents from Kill Your Pet Puppy browsers to his prison cell, and it is a pleasant feeling to know that the ‘Free Gary Critchley’ campaign was started from the comments section on a post from Kill Your Pet Puppy. A fact which I still find rather remarkable and touching, even more so if he were to be rightly released. [Gary Critchley was released with some of the support and flagging up of the case from the KYPP post]

These would be the best posts for interested new browsers to start reading or listening to, but of course there are 790 more which we could not possibly list.
Get on the site and fill your boots!

The Adam And The Ants new years eve 1979 post with information on the fanzine HERE

One of the Crass rehearsal tapes HERE

The Wapping Autonomy Centre post HERE

The Mobs ‘No Doves’ post with Mark and Josef commenting in the text HERE

Campbell Buildings squat (inc early Gary Critchley comments) HERE

Heretics HERE and HERE

Mike and Toxic Grafity Crass edition fanzine HERE

and finally Killing Joke written by Malicious Damage Operatives HERE

Thank you for your interest in our site

Final bullet point

Kill Your Pet Puppy, the website, was started in October 2007 as a way to not only document the fanzine but also the culture of the time.

This was because we could hear cultural archaeologists beginning to restrict this history to a mere musical framework.

This website has developed through many people’s photos, scans of printed material, downloadable music and written contributions into a communication point for those who were there, those who wish to know more about the time and as something that is as culturally significant today as it was then.

Tony D – Submitted to Maximum Rock And Roll on the magazines request for ‘Blog Of The Month’ – 2010

Part 1 – Buffalo Bar – London – 29/08/13 – Silent Scream

Part 1 – The Buffalo Bar, Highbury, London, N1 – 29/08/13

August 2013 – The month of much practising and some considerable movement for the newly resurrected band from, ahem, many many moons past, Part 1.

Both apprentices in the dark arts, Mark Ferelli and Jake Baker had the idea of resurrecting the band and therefore the bands legendary dark FX sound sometime earlier in 2013. Part 1’s original bassist Chris Pascoe was somehow removed from the coffin he was in at the time and agreed to be involved. Needing a drummer the band enlisted the help of the ever capable and much in demand Chris Low who has an impressive list of band membership under his belt spanning over three decades.

In August 2013, nine moons in, the band headed up to Blackpool to perform the afternoon ‘graveyard shift’ at the Rebellion Festival.

Prior to the performance and for reasons unknown to me (or forgotten about if I was ever told the story) Chris Pascoe placed his bass guitar back into the guitar case and wandered west (not literally west as he would have wandered into the sea surrounding Blackpool) to settle once more into the coffin he had been exhumed from just weeks previously. Possibly my memory is being unfair to me and it might be entirely possible that Chris Pascoe did not even make the journey north but either way his absence left the now three piece Part 1 performing, I assume, a treble heavy set in a large hall to the supporters that happened to turn up for the event.

I was not in attendance so can not comment further, although I am sure I would have been told of some of the, ahem, feedback heavy highlights of the event. I have probably just forgotten due to worms eating away at my brain.

A low key London performance had been organised at the Buffalo Bar around the time that whispers of the reformation performance due shortly at Rebellion were going around the much darker version of the ‘sowing circle’ within that scene.

The band apres Rebellion were in need of a bassist.

Chris Low via some form of black magick infected the idea of his flat mate David Barnett’s worthy abilities on a bass guitar, directly into the skulls of Mark and Jake.

David’s ancient parchment of a C.V regarding band membership and being in and around the music business was also mightily impressive.

I can only assume due to the urgency of the situation with suddenly becoming bass light extremely recently, and with a London performance placed into the collective diaries coming up very soon, that both skulls were happy to give David a chance.

Part 1 practised and then practised once more. After practising hard just twice, and with no doubt some form of blood sacrifice, Part 1 suddenly became a force to be reckoned with again with the addition of David. ‘Tomb’ was the only Part 1 track that David was unable to master due to the time limitations.

Eighteen moons after the Rebellion afternoon ‘graveyard shift’ performance, Part 1 turned up at the Buffalo Bar, a small subterranean cellar dungeon of sorts with a low ceiling and pillars that get in the way pretty much all the time. Part 1’s kind of place.

Darkness had descended and some old faces showed up from many many moons past. This humble scribe included. As the small subterranean cellar dungeon filled up a little, the support band came onto the stage.

“Hang on” this humble scribe ponders. “Why is Part 1’s head ghoul Mark Ferrelli plugging leads into his effects pedals?”

“What sort of madness is this?” I mutter to myself. I had literally just got a first pint of cider from the bar, already wide eyed and grinning with anticipation and it is barely 8.45pm. Chris Low gets behind the drums and a bassist and a vocalist appear as if by magick.

I ponder for a while why gigs are not like they used to be. I start to believe that if the ghost trains are running on time I should be back in my crypt by 10.15pm.

Thirty minutes of Part 1 were the perfect support for the main act who clambered onto stage after a short interval. The small subterranean cellar dungeon had been filling up a little more with younger supporters of Part 1, some from areas far from Highbury, some from countries far from England.

The main act on the night, Part 1 finished the night with an absolutely glorious noise. The dark Lords protecting the band from harm were finally appeased after thirty years of deafening silence from their apprentices.

Was this jape two sets for the price of one? More likely the jape was a practise run through of the Part 1 set early doors, to give the band the confidence to really push forward the second Part 1 set in a slightly altered order.

A great night out and this humble scribe finally escaped the madness and got back into my crypt around midnight, the witching hour. That’s better.

Part 1 has always held a special place in my heart, some cynics would state that maybe it was because I used to have several copies of the début 7″ single ‘Funeral Parade’ released in 1982 that has rose in price month by month during these last few years.

I did have three extra copies of this small sacred relic but I gave them away, so that kills that rumour stone dead.

It must have been something else?

Some cynics would state that maybe it was because Southern was carrying the Pusmort label and Southern Record Distributors (and therefore myself) handled the many boxes full of Part 1 mini L.P’s ‘Pictures Of Pain’ released in 1985 that has rose in price month by month during these last few years.

I did have two extra copies of this larger sacred relic but yet again I gave them away, so that kills that rumour stone dead.

Maybe it was just the dark sounds held within the grooves of those two slabs of vinyl. And the fact that at the time of those sacred relics being placed on this earth by dark forces beyond my comprehension, no other band sounded quite like Part 1, then or since.

Is this the reason why Part 1 has always held a special place in my heart?

Yes it is, Just that.

Mickey ‘Penguin’

Part 1 since the resurrection have performed several times, this humble scribe being in attendance on several occasions. Part 1 performed in Paris earlier this year, and will be performing in Finland on the third moon of October as special guests of Silent Scream.

Details are below on the flyer and also on the website link in the Silent Scream section.

We have here uploaded on KYPP tonight a recording of the second set performed at the Buffalo Bar, courtesy of Chris Low. Many dark praises to Chris for sorting out the audio and to the original recording duo in the small subterranean cellar dungeon, Carla Boregas and Laura Del Vecchio from the Brazilian psychedelic gothic band Rakta.

Also many dark praises must go to Steph Hagar for the photograph of Part 1 on stage at the Buffalo Bar.

Finally many dark praises must go to Nick Hydra, who was ‘there’ in 1982 and is also still ‘there’ in 2014. It is Nick’s review of the Buffalo Bar performance that is written below.

The polaroid of Jake mesmerising the audience and the mugshots of just some of the great, the good, and the ghouls who were at the Buffalo Bar that dark August night last year, are from this humble scribes collection.

For more Part 1 information please check out the Facebook page HERE.

Part 1 resurrected

What’s in a name? Goth? Deathrock? Doomrock? Anarcho-punk? Post-punk? Part 1 have been called all these and more. The closest is probably Anarcho-punk, if only because they played most of their very rare gigs within that milieu.

At its vital, chaotically creative best, Anarcho-punk was a loose network of individuals following their own trajectory, like planets in orbit being pulled into each other’s gravitational fields, coming together and springing apart in a bewildering array of combinations and occasional collisions.

In the end what most people had in common was their unwillingness to fit in anywhere else. Anarcho-punk was where the malcontents and misfits found the space to be different in their own way.

Viewed in this way, Part 1 (like fellow travellers Flowers in the Dustbin, Blood & Roses, Hagar the Womb, the Mob and Amebix), by virtue of their very otherness are one of the best examples of Anarcho-punk you could hope to find. Although they are often linked with Rudimentary Peni due to a similarly off-kilter approach and the friendship between Part 1’s Mark F and Peni’s Nick Blinko, in the end they are only Part 1, alone in a field of one.

Surviving original members Mark F (Guitar) and Jake Baker (Vocals) are joined by the new rhythm section of Chris Low (drums) and David Barnett (bass) for their second gig in 30 years. Despite the band having become something of a cult in recent years, they wear this new found status lightly, and with a degree of self-depreciating humour, singer Jake referred at one point to their gigs being “like buses” (you wait ages for one, and then three come at once).

Of the two sets played tonight, the second was possibly the better, probably as a result of both the audience and band having loosened up slightly.

So, how to describe a Part 1 gig to the uninitiated? It was hypnotic; disturbing; challenging; uplifting. It was… a Part 1 gig. You can hear echoes of Metal Box era PIL, early Banshees and Killing Joke, as well a healthy dollop of UK Decay in the spiralling FX-heavy guitar, along with a whiff or Crisis and Six Minute War, especially in the bass-lines and vocal delivery, but that doesn’t really give you a flavour of the thing.

Given that they have only acquired a bass player in the last few weeks (having performed at the Rebellion festival without one) they were completely in control; creating a deft interplay between the tight rhythmic and melodic structures that weaved back and forth in an elegant symmetry, with the locked in rhythm section allowing Mark F to indulge in some serious FX pyrotechnics, sending shards of feedback shuddering and looping across the stage.

Existing as they did on the outer fringes of Anarcho-punk (itself having a problematic, fractured relationship to anything that could be considered ‘popular culture’), and belonging to no particular time frame, Part 1 have avoided the pitfall of many a re-formed band, that sense of being dated and irrelevant.

Rather like the long-buried Martian spaceship in Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit, they have lain dormant, waiting for us to rediscover them, and trigger the primeval impulses encoded in our DNA.

Although they were not visually dynamic, staying virtually static throughout, they held the attention with ease, creating a kind of vortex in which the unwary audience were held, almost mesmerised by the sonic barrage pulsating from the stage.

Highlights? A fantastic rendition of The Black Mass, a rare outing for the ultra-obscure Claws and Jake spitting out the final line of Hymn in amended form as they left the stage at the end of the second set…

“In the shadow of the cross, we still stand defiant!”


Nick Hydra

Part 1 are to be visiting Finland on the 3rd October and will be performing alongside Silent Scream. I believe the concert has been set up by Antti from Silent Scream who has supported and been inspired by the music of Part 1 for many many years now. Please search on the Silent Scream website HERE for updated details on this special night for Part 1 and Silent Scream in Finland. The two videos and the small essay on the sometimes tragic history of Silent Scream has been respectably removed from this website and placed onto KYPP. Thanks to Antti in advance.

From Varjo to Silent Scream

Two tragic deaths within a year. Not the easiest start for a new finnish goth/post-punk band Silent Scream.

The story goes back in 1996 when Antti Lautala and Henry Waldén formed a band called Varjo (a shadow in English). Varjo was influenced by Gothic rock, post-punk and ambient but it differed from other Gothic bands by the Finnish lyrics. At the beginning of the 21st century Varjo was the most successful Gothic band with Finnish lyrics.

After the third album there were changes in line-up but also a tragedy: ex-keyboard player disappeared and after a year and a half he was found dead. After those difficult times Varjo made new songs, supported New Model Army and was ready to record the fifth album.

Two weeks before the recordings guitarist Henry Waldén died in a fire accident and that ended the story of Varjo.

Four months after the funerals the trio recorded the last album “Viimeinen näytös” and it was released in January 2010 (Stupido Records)

After the recordings Antti, Matthew and Jukka decided to continue with a new band name and new songs. It was also natural to change the language and write lyrics in English. Silent Scream will go further to the core of post-punk with influences like Killing Joke, Joy Division, Amebix and Southern Death Cult.

The first Silent Scream album “In the Cinema” (Stupido Records) was released 2010 and the second one “Public Execution” (Stupido Records) 2012.

In 2013 Silent Scream and Murnaus Playhouse released a split album “Bones from the Backyard” (Gothic Music Records)

Antti Lautala

Dub Syndicate – ONU Sound Records – 1982

Pounding Systems / Hi – Fi Gets A Pounding Part 1 & 2 / African Head Charge Don’t Care About Space Invader Machines Part 1 & 2 / Fringe On Top Dub

Humourless Journalist Works To Rules / 10K At 0VU – 60 HZ – Mind Boggles / Crucial Tony Tries To Rescue The Space Invaders / Hi – Fi Gets A Pounding Part 3 / Return To Stage One

Adrian Sherwood, one of the nicest fellows in the music business. His personal catalogue of audio delights engineered by his dubwise fingers and brain covers well over thirty years. Delightful dubs courtesy of the Dub Syndicate and assorted off shoots. Ear shattering industrial noisescapes from the likes of Mark Stewart And The Maffia and funky drum and funky bass from the likes of the different guises of Tackhead. The audio delights he has had a hand in bringing to the reggae enthusiasts turntables, Carib Gems and Hit And Run records, cover well over thirty five years!

Dub Syndicate’s ‘Pounding System’ album is an absolutely crucial release from the ONU records stable, a stable that holds many other crucial moments by various label mates stored within two sides of vinyl.

What I adore about dub albums whether British born or from Jamaica, the titles of the tracks are generally as mad as a bag of frogs due to minimum vocal breaks, so the producer / engineer makes up the titles as an aside. This albums track listing is no exception!

Fill your boots with some of the best (and actually most recognisable) riddims from the hands of Adrian Sherwood along side a cast of Eskimo, Eek A Boo, Lizard, Crucial Tony, Bubblers, Deadly Headley, Flesh, Mr Magoo and Bonjo I.

I have known Adrian Sherwood for over twenty five years and now and again still spend a small amount of time with him, will look forward to some more moments together at some very time soon I hope.

With massive gratitude to Gregory Mario Whitfield for the immense interview with Adrian from 2003.

Going into the legendary On-U studios is like a lesson in musical history for those that love UK and Jamaican roots reggae. I was welcomed at the door by Adrian, and ushered into a completely chaotic, yet calm and friendly atmosphere, with a lot of people getting on with their work in the studio. A large portrait of King Tubby in crisp white shirt, perfectly pressed suit trousers with a typically serious, dignified expression takes pride of place on the wall as an obvious sign of respect. Shrine like, it is placed high up on the studio wall and dominates the vibe of the room. Inspiration from the source. Dub science.

I notice more casual, smiling pictures of Bim Sherman and other On-U luminaries on the walls. The next thing I noticed were the piles of boxed master tapes everywhere. Little Roy, Junior Delgado, Dub Syndicate, Ghetto Priest. (I was sorely tempted to make a closer inspection!) The vibe was good, and I was looking forward to a good interview with this man whose work I had admired for many years, (since those early UK roots classics, the early Creation Rebel albums) and who had worked with so many of the JA and UK roots legends.

Adrian Sherwood. The man hardly needs an introduction here: To anyone who has followed roots and culture music closely, it is generally acknowledged that he has produced truly innovative, ground breaking UK roots music of the highest order since the late 70’s. He had uncompromisingly worked on with roots and dub, even when roots music was at its lowest ebb in the early 80’s and many people had moved on to early digital dancehall and slackness. A lot of people considered roots music a spent force, but Adrian had persevered with the form, working with artists he respected, and artists who still had a lot of originality to offer the reggae world, even though they were no longer considered “fashionable”.

Albums like ‘War Of Words’, ‘Revenge Of The Underdog’ and ‘Pounding System’ showcased UK roots and Jamaican roots artists still at the peak of their creativity. ‘Fit To Survive’ and ‘Devious Woman’ are considered by many to match the best of Bim’s JA output, and are unquestionably deep and atmospheric pieces of music.

I was invited into the kitchen, and was met by the sight of guitarist Skip McDonald, sitting quietly at the table, wearing a West African style hat, cup of tea in hand, looking particularly calm and thoughtful amongst the activity. An artist comfortable with himself.

A man with a gentle and peaceable presence, he greeted me and we started talking, mostly about his recent album, a dub deconstruction of blues music: Eerie Robert Johnson blues style echoey cut ups, with one drop drum rhythms and backward tape loops. Some tracks also feature beautiful vocals from Bim Sherman and Ghetto Priest, an atmospheric new vocalist I was to meet later.

Skip McDonald ‘Seek The Truth’ is the aptly named track which features Bim’s haunting vocals, backed by eerie slide guitar, unpredictably soaring around in the mix, the righteous vibes urged forward by a Bunny Lee “flying cymbals” style. Bim chants, stating his creed with righteous emotion, a relentless, simple and direct message: “Oh friend of mine, a lie is a whisper, the truth is a shout… seek the truth…” The message is replete with a shuddering echo, and what sounds like African chants, cut up and spliced into a weird refrain in the background, swooping in and out of the mix. The brittle percussion is so strangely engineered as to be at times, of unidentifiable origin. Harsh, moody, aggressive and melancholy by turns, it’s a fine, original piece of music.

The album ‘Hard Grind’ is obviously a work of love and dedication, a tribute to Skip’s respect for, and love of the blues. It has an overwhelming sense of the genuine, a work of integrity. ‘Hard Grind’ is an unusual record, a distinctly weird listening experience, and one I’d strongly recommend. A cut up dub funk blues experience, and definitely one for those of you that loved ground breaking records like Eno’s ‘My Life in a Bush of Ghosts’.
For someone that had worked with so many musical legends in the roots and culture and funk worlds, I was impressed that he was so modest and unassuming a character.

Excusing himself, Skip returned to the studio to work on some new rhythms with one of Adrian’s engineers, Nick Coplowe. Later I had a chance to speak with Nick, currently working on his own project, Mutant Hi-Fi. Clearly, there is a strong working relationship and understanding between him and Adrian. I asked how he met Adrian and what clinched it for him in getting the job. He looked at me directly, and put it very simply and succinctly: “Me and Adrian work well together and get on well, because we both have a common interest in noise.” He didn’t need to say any more…

It wasn’t easy getting Adrian to focus on the interview process, because he was doing so many things at once. Periodically, Skip would rush back in to the kitchen enthusiastically to ask what Adrian thought of some new sound he was working on, and Adrian would juggle ideas back and forth, striving to flesh out new ideas, adapting and innovating together.

At the same time, the phone was ringing constantly, people organising sound system sessions (sound system session with Adrian, Junior Delgado and Iration Steppers in Leeds was being put together, and Style Scott was in town, to play with Luciano) enquiring about record release and tour dates and so on. Crucial Tony and Eskimo Fox were due to lay down some tracks for Adrian, and Junglist Rasta Congo Natty had a meeting with Adrian a few days later. I kept on switching on my tape, only to be apologetically interrupted by Adrian, “I’m sorry, bear with me one minute…”

As if this wasn’t a busy enough scenario, Adrian was constantly trying to parry the mischievous playfulness of his daughters. They hurtled around the studio as Adrian prepared snacks for them and good naturedly did his best to organise some kind of afternoon schedule for them. It was a lovely summer’s day, and the garden, as I looked out of the window, looked peaceful and quiet compared with the mayhem in the studio.
Adrian comes across as someone who is completely down to earth: direct, sharp, smart, and it is clear that this is a man who is very determined and resolute. He has earned respect from his many years in the reggae world, and his work as an innovator. Ghetto Priest arrives and joins the work in the studio.

I take advantage of an ensuing period of relative calm to begin the interview, and I ask, what led Adrian to reggae in the first place. What started his journey that led to the On-U Sound experience?
When I was pretty young, I was heavily into soul music. I loved that, but I was really carried away by early reggae music and ska tunes. Those were pretty eccentric, freaky tunes, stuff like U Roy’s ‘Wear You To The Ball’… I was soaking up all that energy, even when I was at school, and when I heard reggae music at the local black clubs I went to, that was when I got really into it.

What was your next stage after your initial fascination with reggae I asked?

Well, I was still in my late teens when I started working for the Carib Gems label people… I was a junior director… I loved roots music, and the tunes we were putting out on that label, tracks like ‘Observe Life’ by Michael Rose, and ‘Babylon Won’t Sleep Tonight / Sleepers dub’ by Wayne Jarrett and the Righteous Flames were strong, strong tracks, they really were. Especially I loved the ‘Sleepers’ track. The Tubby’s version is a heavy dub. It’s sad, I don’t even have copies of those 45’s myself anymore. I wish I’d held on to my copies! You know of course we cut our own On-U version of ‘Observe Life’ with Creation Rebel on the rhythm, and Ari on the vocal, then there was a dub too.

Since you’d released so many good tunes on that label I asked, why don’t you collect them to release on a compilation? I think a lot of people would be really glad to hear them on one compilation.

I’d love to. I was so into those Carib Gems releases, but like a lot of those Hitrun label tunes, it’s a matter of ownership and copyright that prevents me. It’s a shame because there are a whole lot of unreleased tunes which just haven’t seen reissue because of ownership debates. A whole lot of those Creation Rebel Hit Run 12’s were very good, such as ‘Beware’. They deserve good reissue. I did collect a few of the best tracks from that time on an early On-U compilation with tracks like Carol Kalphat’s ‘African Land’ and some other Far I and Creation Rebel stuff. I don’t know how available that release is now, but it’s a solid collection. Another person from that time I’d like to work with again is Deadley Headley, who is another Jamaican artist who just hasn’t received the attention he truly deserves. It’s possible that I’d consider putting together a compilation of my tunes I did with him if there’s enough unreleased stuff in the On-U vaults: I’m not sure that I have enough unheard stuff though, but that would be nice, and it’d be good to get some more exposure for such a good artist.

When I had linked up with Don Letts, I ‘d asked about his experiences with Adrian and the early days of the On-U family. He remembered it this way: “Sure, we hung out with Adrian in those times. I still do see Adrian! I’ve known him for about twenty five years. The thing about Adrian was, you knew that the man always ran with a posse in them days! So if you met up with Adrian, they’d all be there too. Yes, man like Jah Whoosh, Prince Hammer would be there, Crucial Tony, Bonjo I, and Don Campbell too. And of course Prince Far I and Bim Sherman if they were in London at the time”.

I’d asked Don which records he’d liked from the early On-U stuff: “Of course the early African Head Charge music, which is pretty far out stuff. Extreme music. Of the later stuff, I think Skip McDonald’s dub blues fusion stuff is pretty interesting.”

Since Don Letts had around that time cut a tune with a vicious, threatening subsonic dub (with Jah Wobble and Keith Levene at the production desk) as the Electric Dread, I’d asked if he’d ever liked to have worked with Adrian in those days: “Yeah sure, of course I would, but I’m more a vibes man, a sound man. I’ve always DJ’ed and made films, that has always been my thing you know, I’m not really a musician.”

So in the light of my discussions with Don Letts on this subject, I was keen to know about Adrian’s experiences with John Lydon, as well as his very early days with Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Ari Upp, and of course most importantly, Creation Rebel who were the backbone of all those early On-U tracks, and in my opinion haven’t really been given full credit for the outstanding original and innovative UK roots outfit they were at that time.

Keith Levene circa Creation Rebel. Ok, on the subject of Creation Rebel, who made a great body of roots music, then later let’s talk about those early days when I hung out with John Lydon, Jah Wobble, Ari and Keith Levene. We had an authentic, hard rhythm section in Creation Rebel, with good musicians, such as Crucial Tony, Lizard and Eskimo Fox, with Pablo on the melodica. I still work with Crucial Tony and Eskimo Fox now. They will be here in a few days to lay down some stuff for the new Little Roy music I’m working on, and Crucial did some stuff on the Little Roy Long Time album. Yeah, so in those days, we were always competing with the Jamaican bands of the time, always looking for a way to get the edge on them, it was a challenge for us, a hype thing too, to be different from the JA bands when they came over on tour to the U.K. and the way for us was with the drums… we really worked on getting a heavy, heavy rockers drumming style, but it had our own thing in there, our own distinctive contribution, our own hard edge to it. It wasn’t just a copy of the Jamaican drum sound, and I think in its own way, it was as good as what was happening in Jamaica at that time. Of course when we got Style enlisted that was it, a great step forward for us, because it united what was going on in the roots scene in UK with what was happening in Jamaica. And of course, linking up with Prince Far I was a great thing for me at that time because it opened up access and pathways to a whole pool of great Jamaican talent too.

Speaking of the whole early period of experimentation with Creation Rebel, Dub Syndicate and African Head Charge, including the contributions of Public Image members Jah Wobble and Keith Levene, Adrian remembers it this way:

Going back to the influence of punk days now, yeah, I knew John Lydon well, and it was through John that I got to know Keith Levene and Jah Wobble. I got to know John better after Sid had died. Ari Upp, Neneh Cherry, Junior and I, we all lived in a squat down Battersea way, and John Lydon was living with Nora [his future wife and Ari Upp’s mum] round the corner. John Lydon used to visit us, and we all hung out together. John was just so hip you know, a lot of people really looked up to him at that time. John really knew his reggae, he loved his reggae. I can tell you that John Lydon really helped the progress of roots and culture in Britain at that time. It was around that time, not long after he’d been beaten up here in London that he went on to radio and played Dr Alimantado’s ‘Born for A Purpose’. Alimantado was immediately shot to cult status as a result! The lyric of that tune was relevant you know? “If you feel like you have no reason for living, don’t determine my life!” That was John’s reply to the idiots that had beaten him up. You should realise that it was John Lydon who suggested that I work with Keith Levene who I was really impressed by, and then through him I linked up with Jah Wobble, which was great for me at the time. I was so happy to work with Keith, because Keith just had such an original sound, and I knew I could translate that originality he had into a dub context, and it worked totally if you listen to those Creation Rebel and Singers and Players records. He also played guitar on some of those New Age Steppers sessions, and laid down bass as well on some tracks, which I don’t think he was ever credited for… So it was John Lydon who had the idea for me to work with his band, and I loved their sound and what they were doing.

Levene’s sparse guitar sound on Creation Rebel’s ‘Threat To Creation’ and the ‘War of Words’ albums, jagged and lonely, punctuated the melancholy and ethereal purity of Bim’s angelic voice… Without a ‘Love Like Yours/Devious Woman’ and its dubwise excursion is a work as powerful and compelling as Bim Sherman’s earlier Kingston releases.

On his tracks cut for Adrian and Creation Rebel, Keith Levene’s style is eerily reminiscent of Earl Chinna’s style on the ‘East of The River Nile’ album… (Check out the emptiness of the ‘East of the River Nile album, and specifically Chinna’s spiraling chord structures on Pablo’s Nature’s Dub, loosely held together by almost bleak echoing piano notes, falling like rain in a deserted space).

Then there is Bim’s meditative version of ‘Satta’, here going under the title of Ethos Design, and it is a design, the instruments acting as sculptural forms, existing in structures in which the silences are as vital as the drum-bass movements. It is an extraordinary work of linear sound deconstruction, the rhythm section building up, only to literally fall away, as the engineer gets deeper and deeper into separate drum tones, reducing the vibe to a heartbeat pulse… snares fall away, cymbals and high hat oscillate in bright spirals, only to be further reduced to a skeletal form, with Bim’s voice effortlessly present, floating over the surface as the song fades in to reflective silence…

Deadley Headley, (who contributed to Augustus Pablo’s Rockers label, notably the ‘Rockers meets King Tubby inna Firehouse’ album) cut his own melancholy horns version on the same Creation Rebel version of this rhythm, and the drum track was used to fine effect on a version of Bim Sherman’s ‘Revolution/ Resolution’: In the latter case, the drum track received brutal disassembly at the hands of Adrian, spinning the snare sounds backwards, then forwards in a spiral of noise, only to drop into the familiar Revolution bass vibration… uncompromising and aggressive. Also featured on ‘Threat To Creation’ are the severely underrated drum skills of Eskimo “Mus’come” Fox, and Bruce Smith, who went on to work as Lydon’s PIL drummer for four years: Listen to the version of Horace Andy’s Problems on the ‘Playgroup album’, (titled ‘Deep And Mintyful’) for some militant drum and percussion interplay, and you’ll see how underrated these drummers truly are.

What about working with Jah Wobble, I asked Adrian? Jah Wobble had in his early days, had a serious reputation as a hard man: an instinctive, natural bass player, but cantankerous into the bargain. In Jon Savage’s book England’s Dreaming, journalist Nick Kent describes the by now notorious time he was attacked with a bike chain by Sid Vicious at an early Pistols gig : “Sid immediately pulled this chain out. He made some remark he thought was insulting like: ‘I don’t like your trousers.’ The guy next to me immediately makes a motion towards Vicious and then pulls his knife out and he really wants to cut my face. Years later I find out his name is Wobble. This was a real speed freak, and this is when it got very unhealthy. I remember putting my hands up and not moving a muscle, and then Vicious tapped him on the shoulder and he disappeared immediately. It was all a set up: Vicious then had a clear aim, and got me with the bike chain.”

Wobble saw it somewhat differently though, as he told Jon Savage: “I used to get violent on a few occasions… The one with Nick Kent was not one of those. Kent was with some geezer who demanded that we step aside, they couldn’t see the band. I said ‘fuck off’ which was pretty standard. Sid wasn’t a rucker but he lashed him with a chain and then I had a go, but we were just mucking about. What I didn’t know then was if you set yourself up as a hardman, someone will come looking for you who’s harder than you are…” Again to Jon Savage, Wobble spoke of his friendship with John Lydon and Sid Vicious: “John and Sid were exactly what I was looking for when I was sixteen… all I knew then was that I desperately didn’t want to work. I was already an angry young man. I had images of being enclosed by council flats, feeling very claustrophobic.” Jon Savage comments on Wobble: “Only [Jah Wobble’s] icy blue stare now betrays his past. During Punk, Wobble, Like Sid, resembled a random destruction machine, wound up and placed in the middle of an event to see what would occur. Today he speaks of his past as if of another life.”

I recounted these stories to Adrian, and I perceived a certain mischievous, conspiratorial expression cross his face, (memories perhaps?) but when he speaks, his love and respect for Wobble are only too obvious. He speaks of Wobble’s achievements with pride:

Wobble & Lydon, Me and Wobble go back a long way, and I love him. We’ve always been very close. It’s true, Wobble did have a problem with alcohol, but that’s all in the past now, and he’s long left that behind. I respect what he has become as a person and a musician, because he is an example of someone who has really achieved and built everything from his own efforts. You always hear people say, “Oh Wobble couldn’t play bass when Public Image started, and he just had a good, instinctive way with playing a heavy dub bass-line” well, that may have been true back then, but let me tell you, Wobble really can play now! He really understands his instrument; he is the original MR FAT BASS SOUND. That is Wobble for you. The last time I saw Wobble was at his wedding and he looked so happy. I’m proud of the stuff Wobble has done with me on those African Head Charge and Dub Syndicate records, and I love a lot of his solo stuff too. Some of his early tunes on the Betrayal album are really good.

I was very keen to know more about the African Head Charge albums as well. They were so prolific, eccentric and uncategorisable, yet no one had really spoken about them at any great length, so I was very eager to get Adrian’s insight in to these strange records. He spoke about them with obvious a sense of sincerity, but with a definite high spiritedness, representative of the obviously bizarre and downright eccentric sounds that Bonjo I et al had created all those years ago.

African Head ChargeI’ll be straight with you, a lot of those sounds we created on those records came out the consumption in large amounts of two very different drugs, speed and marijuana! You know, those African Head Charge records were a labour of love to me, and we didn’t really expect too many financial rewards. When you listen to a record like ‘Environmental Studies’, it’s clear that a sound like that might be intimidating to some people. Woven into the mix, you can hear car crashes, water flowing, bottles breaking. We used a lot of “found sounds” and many “environment sounds” from the studio down at Berry Street where it was recorded. It’s a long time since I’ve listened to that record, but who knows what sounds we put into that record, I think we even might have used water sounds from the toilets and humming vibrations from the boiler room! I haven’t listened to that record in a long time, for the simple reason that when I was working on the record, I listened to it repeatedly, day in, day out, so in my mind, its very much a part of that time… I’ll have to go back to it and listen to it again some time…

I mentioned that the Deadley Headley contributions are especially good on that album, to which Adrian wholeheartedly agreed. I also asked him about my favourite track from the ‘My Life In A Hole In The Ground’ album, the eerie and haunting ‘Far Away Chant’. It is such a strange piece of music, and I was inquisitive to know, where it had come from, deep in the On-U Sound psyche!

Yes, that’s a heavy track. If I remember rightly, it came out of the same sessions we had been working on with Prince Far I and the Dub Syndicate for the Cry Tuff album. There was a slow and hard track, ‘Plant Up’, with a classic, growling Far I chant about the herb… anyway, I wanted something even slower, more threatening, heavier, so I took similar sounding rhythm track, and slowed it right down, right down, making it ridiculously slow and heavy, and laid Far I’s anti nuclear chant over the top. You know, the film director David Lynch took that track, and slowed it down even further, which made it even more threatening, and used it in the film ‘Wild at Heart’ as part of his soundtrack which really pleased me. The mood of the scene he chose it for was pretty dark… I believe it was a ritual ceremony or sacrifice with Harry Dean Stanton.

I asked him specifically about a point in the middle of the aforementioned song, when it just simply stops, cuts off randomly for a few seconds, halfway through a vocal line, midway into a word, seemingly for no reason… before crashing back midway through the tune… It creates a pretty surreal effect! Adrian laughs at the memory…

As I said, they were pretty strange times when we recorded those albums, and random too sometimes! I can’t tell you about that part of the track! Who knows? Maybe I accidentally hit the pause button halfway through the track and we left it in the mix?

He isn’t joking either…

I went on to ask him if a he had received criticism from the reggae cognoscenti mafia in London at that time for his bizarre experimentation with roots music, and unconventional attitude to an often over orthodox form. (I remembered back in the late 70’s and early 80’s some roots purists turning their noses up and not buying certain tunes if they knew they had been recorded in Wood Green or Peckham, even if the dubs were as heavy and creative as what was coming out of Jamaica).

Yes, I did experience some of that, but I didn’t care. We always believed in those early On-U releases, and I felt some of them would have sounded incredible as futuristic film soundtracks. It’s true that some purists on the London scene dissed me for those records I was producing at the time. Perhaps it was the sheer unconventionality of the sound, the inability to be able to categorise such a threatening sound. I didn’t give a fuck about the luddite purists with their little reserves. Really, they didn’t matter to me. I just went on to expand my experiments, putting out hard dub records by Creation Rebel, featuring entire tracks made up of backward tape loops, industrial drills roaring, that kind of style. Anyway, what did the elitists matter to me? I remember going round to people’s houses to listen to tunes, and these guys would be covering up the label with their hands so you couldn’t see who it was by, or blanking out the title. What is that behaviour, you know? I was always very open about this music ‘cos I love it. I used to give away good rare tunes, help people get into the music and hear good tunes. I enjoyed promoting good roots artists, artists who deserved the exposure. I even knew some people who would be too intimidated to visit roots stores because they worried the vibe might be intimidating, but of course it isn’t like that at all.

Finally on the subject of African Head Charge: what about ‘Drastic Season’, I asked?

‘Drastic Season’. That was extreme. The stand out track for me is ‘Depth Charge’, with that slow, driving syndrum intro.
Seen. 20,000 leagues under the sea style! I always thought that was such a harsh record, and I loved that aspect of it, its uncompromising sound, its complete lack of concession to anything even remotely commercial. When listened to repeatedly there were some extraordinary rhythms at play here. A look at the track titles gives some indication of the bizarre listening experience lying in wait for the (believe me here) unprepared listener: African Hedgehog, ‘Snake in the Hole’, ‘I want Water’…

On some tracks, it sounded as if an array of animals had somehow been sucked into the wildness and primal coldness of the mix… croaking frogs, shrieking birds, massively distorted so as to be rendered unrecognisable, snakes hiss, and an assortment of other bizarre creatures make their presence felt… The overall result is disorienting, disturbing, but as a sonic assault, deeply pleasurable… It is the strangest collection of rhythms I’ve ever encountered, yet one of the most rewarding…

When discussing these African Head Charge works, Adrian’s expression is bright, concentrated, inspired. It is clear he loves talking about these old releases, taking pleasure in how disorienting and ground-breaking they were and still undoubtedly are, the mixture of menace and sheer euphoric spirit present in the records. Apparently not many press releases ever came out of the On-U Studios, but in the case of ‘Drastic Season’ one did emerge, and reading it back now is as extraordinary and baffling as the sounds on the disc proved to be:

“A mix of human, animal and machine sounds… check it if you are a dancer, a listener, a film maker, a computer programmer, a human or an animal. Special treats in store for steam locomotive enthusiasts and biologists. You’ve never heard such sounds in your life.”

Changing subject now, I asked Adrian what he felt had changed in people’s attitudes to buying reggae, or indeed any good music, since the late 70’s. He reflected a while then answered:

Is music too corporate and controlled now? … Well, in the past it was a whole ritual… the vinyl, the sleeve, the record label… you know, down the record shop on a Friday night, it pure ritual… was pure ritual… black guys, young white guys, sound men… all enjoying the thrill and pleasure of the ritual, buying the hardest 12″ disco, or spiritual 7″ with a heavy dub on the version… Now, it’s largely a different matter, more of a commodity, a lot of people with a disposable income, and besides, music isn’t viewed in the same precious kind of way, because so much is available now. This just wasn’t the case before. You really had to hunt around to find the kind of tunes you wanted, it was a whole different process. The mystique is taken out of record buying now in a way. Besides the commercial side, there is a whole cross pollination and interchange of ideas and influences going on, which just wasn’t in existence in the late 70’s or eighties, and that in a sense demystifies the uniqueness of what was once a specific “reggae sound” too. Many noises, vibrations, frequencies that were exclusive to reggae are now being used in Hip Hop and other styles too, so that has to be taken into account. Plus the influence isn’t only one-way: reggae too, is soaking up sounds and influences from other forms as well.

I went on to ask Adrian his view of the UK roots scene past and present, and UK so called “Nu Roots”:

UK has always had good roots music. I love what Neil Fraser has done over the years. I especially liked the tunes he put out by Aisha, Macka B and the good stuff he does these days with Mafia and Fluxy. Those are really good tunes. As for the UK Nu roots? Yeah, I like it too, it’s all good works, but I would say this, I feel they need to get away from concentrating exclusively on steppers rhythms, perhaps use vocalists more. They need to get out of limiting themselves to steppers. Having said that, it isn’t a criticism. I like what they do. So England has always had a good roots tradition, and besides that, it’s always had openness to a kind of avant garde thread in the dub world. I had a taste of that myself when I worked with Suns Of Arqa back in the late 70’s and early eighties with their weird cut ups and Islamic, Celtic and Persian influences which were way ahead of their time. They came to me and said “give us some rhythms!” I duly did so, and was impressed with what they did with them. So this openness has always been there in UK, love of hard music and willingness to experiment.

In a discussion of UK roots artists, it was inevitable that I ask him about Shaka. He answered with a sense of awe, respect and reverence.

Shaka? I’ve known Shaka for over 25 years. We are close. I’ve got his number, he’s got mine you know? I have ultimate respect for the man Jah Shaka. Shaka just loves his music! He’s a soul head and he knows his jazz too, deeply. Did you know that? Shaka just has his own thing altogether. Playing music for ten, twelve hours without a break, until he enters a trance like state, then he’s on God’s plane, following God’s plan.

What was his opinion about the current roots music coming out of Jamaica?

There is a lot of hard, tough music coming out of Jamaica right now. Astounding tunes. I especially like the Xterminator studio works, and the album MLK in Dub was a real groundbreaker. Then of course there’s people like Daweh Congo. Good music. There is a lot of good music out there to check out and follow. I think they are increasingly aware of an interest in dubwise styles over here in Europe, as well as an awareness of Europe’s interest in the noise factor.

(This interest in keeping up with the cutting edge of Jamaican innovation was certainly in evidence from the (literally) piles and piles of modern Jamaican roots and dancehall 45’s, neatly stacked in the studio, cupboards and corridors: Productions by new and hungry contenders, innovators out of Kingston such as Steven Stanley, Soljie, Bulby, Penthouse label, African Star and Xterminator music… Bass Research and development…)

Where did Adrian think was the main market in Europe right now for roots music?

France, without a doubt. People like Burning Spear and Israel Vibration are stars there in their own right, and why on earth shouldn’t they be? They do consistently good work and France rewards them accordingly, they get appreciated. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in UK for roots artists.

What is Adrian’s opinion of the Junglist and drum and bass vibes, I wondered, especially since some of the drum ‘n’ bass artists I had recently interviewed had name checked On-U Sound as an influence?

When I hear Jungle and drum ‘n’ bass artists saying that On-U Sound influenced them, well I feel that’s very kind, because as Rasta philosophy tells it, “each one teach one”, and I was influenced by so many people too, so I’m glad this vibe is continuing.

Finally, I felt I had to ask him about the death of Bim Sherman. We had listened to his music for 25 years or so, but not many of us had any insight into the man himself. All we knew of him was his voice, with that uplifting, lonely and angelic character. Adrian looked somewhat dark and serious at the mention of Bim and it is obviously still a delicate point, since they had worked together for a long time.

Bim Sherman RIP. Did you hear ‘Miracle’? That says a lot about Bim. What can I say? Bim was a darling. I’m sorry for using that term, but I’m not sure which other word to use. He was a lovely human being, just a pleasure to work with, and I had been a huge fan of his, right from the early records. He was such a gentle person. Don’t get me wrong though, he could look after himself, and cuss with the best of them. Bim is not someone you would fuck around with. He could speak up for himself, stand up for himself.

Much later, I was to see Adrian’s diary entry for the period covering Bim’s illness and eventual death…

“It was to be my first proper tour as a live DJ… A few days prior to departure, Bim had fallen ill and was in hospital. I visited him at 11.30 the night before I left. It was to be the last time I’d see him alive. We got the news that he passed on the 17th while we were in Dijon. I returned home the next day. Skip McDonald and Bim had a very close friendship. Skip… was devastated… I was sad for Bim’s family, angry with people and everyone around felt empty…”

Gregory Mario Whitfield – 2003

Shameless KYPP advertising section


Flowers In The Dustbin released a 12″ record on All The Madmen records in 1984 and a cassette only release on Rob Challice’s cassette label 96 Tapes again in 1984. Rob Challice would soon look after All The Madmen records after Alistair left in 1985. Flowers In The Dustbin then released a 7″ record on Mortahate records in 1985 and then yet another 7″ record for Cold Harbour records in 1986. This was the entire vinyl output of the band, and shortly afterwards Flowers In The Dustbin disbanded.

Whilst on Cold Harbour records the Flowers In The Dustbin recorded several tracks for release as an album. The record label went bust two years after the sessions and the release was never forthcoming. A very frustrating time for the band.

The release was never forthcoming until now twenty eight years later!

These ‘lost’ recordings are now given the respect they deserve via the Freaks Run Wild record label in America. Screen printed sleeves, booklets and a heavy vinyl. Only 500 copies produced.

Get the vinyl of the lost album, which I found out was mastered from my own original cassette in a roundabout way, from Inflammable Material for the UK and Europe and the wonderfully named Punk Vomit for the U.S.A


Ossian Brown, one of my oldest friends from my teenage years sent me not one, but two new ‘Sulphur’ 12″ singles.

One 12″ single in transparent vinyl, and one 12″ single in transparent red vinyl.

I love it when a surprise package ends up delivered at Penguin Towers!

The three tracks on this 12″ single are all separate soundtracks to three separate short Derek Jarman films and the record includes three inserts. The tracks on this record, to my ears, is heavily Coil influenced. That description might be doing Cyclobe a disservice as I might just be engaging in some lazy journalism, and I certainly rate the core duo of Cyclobe, Steven Thrower and Ossian Brown (both in fact ex members of Coil) as two of the most original and independent musicians out there at the moment.

Try to grab one of these different coloured vinyls (limited to 500 each colour) direct from Cyclobe.


I received the new book by Lee Gibson, ex Brougham Road resident, writer / editor of Anathema fanzine and contributor / editor to many others.

Lee moved in the same circles as The Mob and the Kill Your Pet Puppy Collective for some years. Here in black and white print, throughout this 214 page A4 immense book are memories of Lees early years from 1976 all through to around 1986 (sped read a fair bit just for this description as it will take ages to read it all).

Lee takes the reader though countless Crass and Poison Girls gigs, some pretty rough nights along with various visits to both Crass and Poison Girls HQ’s. There seems to be dozens of pages relating to The Mob, Brougham Road and various houses that the Puppy Collective would be just about surviving in. Lots of squat horror stories, Stop The City run arounds, drug abuse, The Apostles, Crowley magick and plenty more.

As an added bonus some of Lees original interviews from his fanzines are carefully reprinted half way through this book, massive texts of the thoughts and feelings of The Fall, Crass, Poison Girls and Andy T from the very early 1980’s.

This book seems to be the real deal for anyone who may be interested in reading one persons account of the early anarchic punk culture which was an important and sometimes scary time for many. Absolutely insanely cheap at £8.50 – but having the quality of a £20 book it may be purchased if you are interested from Lulu Publishers.


Robert Dellar was involved in a small way (along with Grant Matthews of Rudimentary Peni, a local band to Robert at that time) with the Wapping Autonomy Centre and the Centro Iberico. He edited several fanzines including Straight Up which gave a fair amount of space to The Apostles and The Astronauts. He loved / loves The Swell Maps and Subway Sect. A squatter of many years in many areas, he lived in Brighton for a while and now is back living in south east London, working with Southwark MIND and then Mad Pride. Work that continues to highlight mental illness and help people suffering from the illness.

Robert Dellars book publishing company Spare Change books have published many books including the original print of Nick Blinkos ‘Primal Screamer’ in 1995.

‘Gobbing, Pogoing And Gratuitous Bad Language’ and ‘Mad Pride: A Celebration Of Mad Culture’ were two books with essays, poetry and artwork from various contributors including Nick Blinko, Ted Curtis, Louise Challice, Stewart Home, Andy Martin and Dave Fanning of The Apostles and many more.

‘Seaton Point’ which also has different contributors to the book is actually the story of  the Hackney tower block of the same name and the youngsters experiances of the time. ‘Does for Tennents Super what Trainspotting did for heroin’ written on the rear of the book gives a clue to the delights hidden within the paper back cover.

Get the book from Fishpond and try to search out the other books still available on Spare Change books.

Below is a review of the book ‘Splitting In Two’ by David Russell.

In this book Robert Dellar traces his life journey from his childhood in a working class area of Watford, through Sussex University and the London squatting community, to the murky waters of mental health, as he describes it. Of special importance is the pioneering work Robert did in Hackney Hospital. Here he set up a Patients’ Council and Advocacy Department At the time of the hospital’s closure in the mid 90s, Robert organised some lively gigs described here in colourful detail. His journey then continues to Southwark MIND, (the first user run MIND group) – then on to Mad Pride – an organisation who through the gigs they put on linked mental health to rock and roll. Together with his friend Peter Shaughnessy they also turned mental health demonstrations into theatre.

The title of this book is also the title of a song by punk legends Alternative TV. They make several appearances here, as does Nikki Sudden and two Survivor Punk bands, The Ceramic Hobbs and Rudimentary Peni. Lesser known but equally talented artists like Dave Russell and The Astronauts also make a number of appearances here – as does Ronnie Corbett; he turns out to be a decent chap. While Mad Pride is associated with Punk Rock, a number of folk musicians and poets also took part in their gigs.

Some parts of this book deal with grim topics; there is also much tragedy described here. But a sense of humour runs through this book, and much compassion is shown. A little anarchy is also at play. The titles for a lot of the chapters come from songs. Many of the titles relating to the Punk and New Wave years. This period of time being of importance to Robert as it was when he produced many fanzines.

His fanzine influence would continue with the Southwark MIND newsletter. This was always an Inspiring magazine to read. Along with the different realities featured here, there are pieces of fiction but they fit in well. Some little known capitalist scandals are exposed like the exploitation carried out by the drug companies. Also charities like SANE (Schizophrenia A National Emergency) who, while appearing to be respectable do a lot to demonise people with that label. Also exposed is the reality of life for people who are diagnosed as Schizophrenic. A life of heavy medication, stigma, and locked wards.

This book is an enjoyable read. It is very entertaining. Robert’s journey has been an uphill struggle; it shows both his vulnerabilities and his strengths. But there have been proud achievements along the way. An example being the SANE demonstration Mad Pride organised in the late 1990s where Marjory Wallace came out to face her public. I have a lot of respect for the good work that Robert Dellar has done over the years.


This project organised, edited and put together between Mike Dines and Greg Bull is another large tome from Lulu Publishers.

The book is in A4 format and has 156 pages printed in black and white with some great artwork by Jacky Smith held within as well as some decent quality flyers and photographs from the contributors of essays for the book.

The contributors include our own Alastair Puppy from Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine and online blog, Robert Dellar (who is also on this KYPP post in his own right with the release of his latest book above), Greg Bull himself, Justine Butler (late of Welwyn Garden City but for decades now living in Bristol and now working on her vegan-ism blog HERE), Lucy Robertson from the university of Sussex and Robert Dellars collaborators from time to time, Ted Curtis, Martin Cooper and many more.

Each of the contributors essays, whether short or long, are an interesting blend of autobiography, fictional accounts and serious academic essays on 1980’s sub culture. The 1980’s, whether early or late, is the period that is relevant to this book.

The book is £8 direct from Lulu Publishers


Degenerate – Del Blyben


DEL IN 1979

VJ discovered there was an old abandoned mental hospital a couple of stops down the line in Kilburn called St Monica’s where Jake Heretic and his friends were squatting, I knew I had to find it.

On the way VJ told me stories of how haunted the place was. When we found the place, walking into the derelict building almost felt like coming home.

We found the large ward upstairs at the front of the asylum where people congregated. The older punks, Aussie Bob, Wank Stain, Jake Heretic and some others weren’t hostile, they just ignored us.

Mitch and Ruthless were kind although VJ kept his distance. He was more into Tubeway Army and wearing makeup by then.

Ruthless was the first girl I’d seen with a mohican, and you couldn’t miss her bust. I thought she looked magnificent and while I was trying not to stare Sniper entered the ward.


VJ asked Sniper about the ghosties, and he performed magnificently. He was speeding off his tits standing in the middle of the ward surrounded by rusty old bed frames. In the fading light, back hunched, fingers clawed and wide eyed as he recalled in a gravelly Yorkshire accent all the eerie supernatural events, and he went on for hours. He punctuated all the loud bumps and impregnated all the pauses until we were convinced we could hear them ourselves. His facial expressions told the story of the horrors that awaited us in the dark hours and we were engrossed. He put VJ’s tales to shame and by the dead of night we’d scared ourselves silly. But I still remember sleeping soundly that night.

VJ woke me early next morning wanting to go home. I didn’t want to but left anyway.

I returned when I could on my own. One day I found Mitch with a bottle of Indian ink and a needle. I couldn’t back out so let her tattoo my name on my arm. That was when I decided my name had only one L.

One night at the Marquee I started chatting to George another punk who liked to wear makeup. He was with his mate Kirk. Eventually I got round to asking George, in hindsight the stupidest question I’ve ever asked; “Are you gay?” He looked on me with pity and instead of calling me a twat or worse he explained he was human and sexual, and the question was irrelevant. It all made a kind of sense.

At this time my father decided that I should go to college and get a trade. I think he needed to salve his conscience so he could later say “well at least I tried”. I was enrolled in Middlesex Polytechnic which later became the University. I was taking technology, industrial history and maths to eventually get my City and Guilds certificate. Apart from the field trips to look at beautiful old buildings, I hated it. I’d already had a good taste of freedom and going back to school wasn’t what I wanted.

After enduring two months of it I gave my bondage trousers to a classmate and left. I had better things to do.


Back in Harrow Dino had formed a band called Chaos. One of their first gigs was at Unit One in Uxbridge.

All the local punks, the Woodstocks and the Hillingdon, Womble, the Hayes and the Harrow punks turned up. Most of them I already knew but by the end of the evening I was getting on with the drummer Scarecrow who told me about the squat where he lived in Kennington.

After the gig I went back there with him and met Mad Dog, Liz, Brummy Mark and Scrubber who I shared a room with. Although Scrubber was my first proper taste of sex, with others in the room, it didn’t feel much different from my first time. I never thought she was a girlfriend. I didn’t think she even liked me.

I was just sixteen and didn’t go ‘home’ for a month.

The squat was opposite Kennington tube and to the right a bit. It was an estate ready for demolition due to subsidence.

Pygmy was a six foot three skinny black fourteen year old with a mohican and a glue bag constantly attached to his face. He taught me not to put round things on the floor or they tended to migrate to the fire, staggering in the middle of the room had much the same effect.

One night Scrubber, the worse for tuinol and Merrydown cider, succumbed to the subsidence and magnetic pull of the fireplace. She narrowly missed taking the squats prized possession, the record player with her. The Ramones scratched as she went rear first into the fire and her jumper went up in flames. As the smell of singed hair filled the room Scarecrow jumped to the rescue, putting the Ramones back on as Scrubber grudgingly wasted good cider on the flames.

Getting up the staircase to bed in the dark was difficult enough without the drugs, the lack of an even line or straight edge in the building made it an almost Alpine experience.

There was no water in the place so we were appropriately filthy. The toilet didn’t flush but laziness saw its continual use until even we were disgusted at the size of the pile and the stench. We found a hammer and nailed the door shut with some rusty six inch nails we’d found so we couldn’t use it any more. It reduced the smell too.

We then opened another place three doors down just for its flush-less loo which was almost immediately overwhelmed. Eventually if we got caught short we spread newspaper in the bath, took a shit on that then rolled it up into packages.
We then aimed over the balcony at one of those big round bins five or six floors below.

Scarecrow let one drop one day without noticing the man walking his poodle. The wind caught the package and I nearly looked away as it narrowly missed the dog. The splatter radius was like a bomb blast. We both had the decency to wretch before we ran and hid.

One day Michelle brought her boyfriend Russ home. He’d had all his hair shaved off and turned skinhead. At some point he decided he wanted my leather jacket and that he was going to rob me. Back in another circle facing another fight I didn’t want, I looked to my new friends for support and was told in no uncertain terms to stick up for myself. It was a lesson I’d already learned, but he was bigger than me so I was beaten and lost my jacket anyway.

Next day my friends took me out on the tube to rob someone else of theirs, and I got a better one.

We took whichever opportunities arose and begged borrowed and stole our way to the Kings Road, gigs, parties, other squats and subway four at Piccadilly tube where we got our tuinol, a heavy barbiturate which went easily into syringes back in the squat. I hadn’t started fixing yet myself but was already being asked to do needle work for others and was becoming quite good at it. I was never encouraged to fix myself and one of the first rules I learned was that you never fix anyone who hasn’t fixed before.

One day I’d just swallowed my tuinol when there was a knock on the door. Pygmy disappeared to answer. He soon returned with a grave expression on his face, stared at me from the door and said round the ever present glue bag, “your dad’s at the door”. I turned to stone.

He’d come down to south London with his mate in the work van. My mother had used the situation to berate and blame him so he was there to take me home.

I was unceremoniously thrown in the back of the van on top of some plaster boards which were on top of a bucket in the middle of the van so continually unbalanced. As we weaved through London the tuinol started to hit. I was thrown around the back of the van like a rag doll, bouncing off one wall and then pitched into the other, to eventually be placed in a bruised, semi-conscious heap at my mother’s feet. My father and his friend, job done, promptly vanished to leave me again in the cold misery of my childhood. I was thankful for the drugs. The next morning when they’d worn off I went straight back to the squat.

By then Scarecrow and me had swapped beds and I didn’t need to risk the Alpine staircase any more.

Sometimes after a gig we’d get stuck in the city. There were a few places to go until the trains started in the morning. One was round the back of Wardour Street, in Wardour Mews. This place was called the Eagles club.

It was a dingy basement at the end of an alley with Baby, the fattest black man I had ever seen sitting on a drum stool at the front door. It was a basement half full of comatose punks waiting for sunrise, and the other half speeding off their tits. A bloke came up asking what I was after. I said tuinol. He knew I was skint but said he’d introduce me to some friends round the corner. I went along and up into a room above a shop where two blokes shared their tuinol and wine.

As the drugs started to take effect I was told to make myself comfortable, take off my jacket, then my boots. I sat and went with the flow. I was pulled back to semi consciousness by them removing my belt and trousers. The thought ‘they must be gay’ entered my mind but these weren’t like gays I knew.

They cuffed my hands behind my back and both raped me on the floor.

The next morning I had to plead for release. When they let me go I was still wasted, barbed out and stumbling towards the station trying to beg my fares. I didn’t get anywhere. I eventually ended up in the Music Machine and bumped into Costa and Pinki. Costa was one of the gays on the punk scene which overlapped with the gay scene at the time. He took the time to help talk me down.

I already knew ‘they weren’t all like that’. By the end of the night I remember feeling comfortable enough to sleep in the same bed as him, with Pinki in-between us both of course.

The next day I found myself stumbling up the Kings Road still a bit dazed. I bumped into George and got talking. I told him what had happened to me and he was angry. He asked me what they looked like and where it happened exactly, which I couldn’t pinpoint. He talked to me as a mate and took me to the Chelsea Potter and fed me. I remember sitting there and not really saying anything, just eating, and the normality of it all kind of cured me.

It would have been so easy to turn bitter and hateful. I was so lucky to have good people around me.

On one of my odd visits ‘home’ a girl called Tracy from the other side of Harrow with a biker brother called Basher gave me a mohican in her kitchen. I couldn’t help notice how every time I went back there were more and more punks. All the youngsters round the edges of the local scene were getting hooked and becoming a community.

We’d got to hear that Spizz Energy were doing a TV show and wanted some punks to come up. We filled the coach they’d put on for us to Hatfield where Daly Thompson the athlete was hosting the ‘young persons’ debate show. Of course we’d all got off our heads on the coach and by the time we arrived there were serious discussions about letting us in. Spizz being the diplomat soothed the ruffles while we sniggered our way through the door hiding our bottles and cans.

Before the show Daly was trying to be nice. He asked me from a circle of admiring giggly teenage girls how I made my mohican stand up. Despite being on a debate show I didn’t feel all that talkative at that particular point, but Spizz had asked us all to play nice so I smiled inwardly and made polite, while Daly took the piss to impress the girls. During the show he started to lose his cool after all the swearing kept ruining the takes, but being offensive little bastards we continued. We were spread throughout the crowd in little groups, trying to sneak swigs without the camera noticing.

Wobble had a bottle of Merrydown cider under her jacket with a straw which was cunningly attached to the side of her face. After a well worded reply by a smug young Christian Tory, Wobble shouted ‘bollocks’ to everyone’s loud approval. Daly Thompson was not impressed.

He ended the debate and fluffed his lines several times introducing Spizz Energy.


Chaos were playing at the Kings Head Deptford. The pub was known to be a bit boisterous in there so Dino’s brother Frog decided to come along for support. When we arrived the place was full of skinheads and Frog the rockabilly became a focal point.

While Chaos were on stage a fight broke out and it seemed like all the skins in the pub took turns on him. His throat and face were cut but we managed to get him out alive. He refused to go to hospital and decided to get the train back home to Harrow instead while the band stayed to sort out the mess. I caught the tube back with him. On the way I convinced him to pop into Northwick Park hospital which was at our stop anyway. I phoned his parents while the nurses stitched him up and waited for them to arrive before I left.

Sarah used to follow the Ants and was squatting at Cato Road in Clapham a few stops down the line from us in Kennington. She took me back to Clapham with her one night after a gig. Being sixteen I followed my instincts and moved in.

Clapham seemed to be full of Belfast punks from both the Catholic and Protestant communities. They had all come to London to settle in the squats.

There was another Jake, Deirdre, Siobhan, Gordy and Curly who told everyone he was asexual in the campest Belfast accent I had heard. Other punks and runaways from Birmingham and the Home Counties were also around. Leah, large Donna from Hackney, and Cliff who played drums for the Straps.

1979 was coming to an end and 1980 was fast approaching.

That New Years Eve the Ants were returning to the Electric Ballroom in Camden. I’d seen them there earlier in the year and couldn’t wait.

Poncing at Camden tube before the gig I got talking to a bloke from up north. He’d looked at me, then turned to his mate and said “Ere look, ‘e’s got green ‘air”. Actually it was faded peacock blue but before I could point this out he’d caught sight of Scrubber, Sarah and Michelle poncing spare change in boots and leathers in the station behind me. He said earnestly “I don’t know how you can touch those punk girls” and at that moment out of the corner of his eye he noticed Angel march up the escalator and through the station. She had long white shaggy hair a beautiful face, ample cleavage, thigh boots, mini skirt and stockings, studded leather jacket and a bull whip in her hand. The bloke’s head did a slow but complete 180 degree turn watching her as she strode passed, then snapped back to me slack jawed. I didn’t say a word. I just folded my arms and smiled smugly. It may not be the best example but at that moment I felt so proud of punk women.

I loved Ants gigs and all the squats in London seemed to turn out for this one.

It was as if everyone was there, tall skinny Tony D weaving back through the same crowd flogging his new fanzine ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’, copies of which would later on be found in all the squats, and the means by which a load of us discovered what was happening on the wider scene we were a part of.

There was such a good atmosphere that night and everyone seemed to have a smile on their face, the Ants really performed as well. After a brilliant gig some people walked up to Trafalgar Square. I was drunk and happy and just generally partied through London that night on a slow roundabout walk back to Clapham with the rest of them.

It had been a year since Sid Vicious had died and Pat Marx had organised a march from the Kings Road to Hyde Park to commemorate him, and all the punks from all the squats turned out for it. Along the way Pat had carried a bucket collecting spare change which he said was for Sid’s mum.

By the time we reached Hyde Park the bucket was getting heavy and, like us, Pat noticed the line of skinheads marching parallel to us and shadowing us like a shark. The mood of the punks became quietened and people started to disappear.

As we neared the Serpentine lake Pat said his piece, declaring the day a success and making sure to remind any skinheads listening that the money wasn’t his.

Pat hastily disappeared leaving a park full of skinheads and punks to sort it out themselves.

One punk went through the roof of the Serpentine restaurant, another couple ended up in the lake as fights broke out all over. The police were having the time of their lives chasing anything that ran but most people managed to escape in ones and twos while all hell broke loose.

After the park I’d moved in the opposite direction to any skinheads I saw and eventually found myself looking in the window of Great Frog.

I’d started to relax then walked back round the corner onto Carnaby Street just in perfect time to be confronted by a wall of skinheads the width of the street coming straight towards me. I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights, but I knew if I ran I’d be chased down so instead I nonchalantly sauntered to one side looking at the skins I knew in turn, and to my amazement I was left alone.

The squat was becoming a bit over full, excellent fun but tempers frayed in close quarters, so Sarah was moving stuff to a new place in Brixton.

She’d lived in Villa Road before and Michelle and skinhead Russ were living there too. There were a load of punks squatting in Brixton at the time from the front line to the barrier block. The Glasgow punks, Zaza, Fibro, Rab and Jimmy, Jock Strap and Irish Tom. They were easy enough to find, you just walked up the frontline and listened for Slaughter and the Dogs.

Sarah packed up her stuff and with mattress on her back, said her ‘see you laters’ and set off for Brixton on the bus. A few days later She came back with Michelle.

Their new place had been petrol bombed by rockabillies and Russ had been burned to death. Sarah had been out at a gig but Michelle and Russ were both there and barbed out of their heads.

Michelle told us how she’d tried to wake him up but couldn’t, and how she’d tried to drag him out, right up until she had to get out herself to save her own life.

She was in a real mess crying and still coughing from the smoke, she blamed herself and skinhead friends of Russ blamed her too.

Sarah called for a squat meeting one morning. A collective inward groan was heartfelt by all.

Previous meetings to discuss the relevant issues which affected us all had descended into pitch battles and people got hurt at these things, usually by Sarah and the girls. She’d screamed over the din at the first meeting that from now on you could only talk if you were holding the rolled up newspaper that she had in her hand, and she’d got the last word. Of course the next squat meet everyone brought their own rolled up newspaper, which also make handy weapons and our second attempt at democracy ended with Belfast Jake and Perry needing to visit St Thomas’s.

By the meeting after that one I’d acquired a postman’s hat, placed the band across the top and a skull and crossbones on the front. Sarah had called it the Adolf hat and decided she could make a better point with it than a rolled up newspaper. To be fair that meeting resulted in us organising the supermarket skips between us and what gigs and parties we were going to. Sarah was quite proud of herself, but despite the hat I think we all agreed simply because we all wanted to eat, go to gigs and not get hurt.

This particular morning we all thought we knew what we were doing already so to be summoned for a meeting was quite disconcerting for everyone. I just hoped it didn’t end in hospital again. An ominous air of dread you could almost taste descended as we all slowly filed into the front room and sat, Sarah was stood, her back to the fire place, hands on hips in her leather and boots, the Adolf hat was already firmly secured to her head and a grim expression on her face.

A resigned and apologetic Belfast Jake was last to meekly enter and be seated. He looked up at Sarah’s face and whispered “oh shit” almost to himself.

She waited for silence then waited some more for effect then in a deep stern but matter of fact tone informed us all that at the Martian Dance gig the previous night, Grant from Wood Green had told her that he had the clap. The implications were obvious, she hadn’t seen him for a month and in that time half the squat had probably caught it.

The dread sank in as it dawned that we’d all be visiting St Thomas’s on mass that day.

Belfast Jake started to regale us with stories of little metal hooks, needles and umbrellas that they like to poke down the eye of your dick and torture you with.

Like lost sheep Sarah rounded six of us up and after we’d consumed all and any drink and drugs we had stashed at the squat and a subsequent visit to the local off licence on the way, she herded us off on the tube to the clap clinic.

Large Donna was last up the escalator at Waterloo station and nearly got caught as we all bunked through so we had to leg it from the tube. A bit puffed out but in newly buoyed spirits we stumbled into the hospital. Strangely a porter seemed to already know where we were going before we did and silently pointed us in the right direction without a question being asked.

In silent contemplation we walked through the clap clinic doors, two of the prettiest nurses I had ever seen took over from Sarah and shepherded us off to little cubicles to do their experiments. I thought it was all relatively painless but I could hear through the curtains another pretty nurse trying to hide the irony as she told Perry in an understanding voice “it’s OK, it happens” as he dripped discharge over the floor. He had point blank refused one of the procedures and in another cubicle Belfast Jake had come over all faint and heaved at the sight of another.

Then we had to sit and write down all the names of people we’d had sex with in the last month. Various versions of Mickey Mouse made it down on paper but in our heads it became clear that we’d have to send out diplomatic emissaries to several other squats in London.

After a handful of antibiotic on top of the drink and other drugs and a round of knowing pitiful smiles from the nurses we left to lick our wounds back at the squat.


The squat was over full so eventually the Belfast mob, me, Leah, Cliff and a few others found a place opposite side of the High Street in Edgley Road upstairs to Rab Fae Beith, the drummer from the Pack and the Wall.

The cycle of sex and drugs, begging and gigs, parties and punk were balanced by the ever present hunger and poverty. We’d all take it in turns to do the bread run in the mornings, prowl the streets for the odd pint of milk on a doorstep and sometimes butter and a block of cheese. We even sometimes got eggs and bacon if we caught a milk float unattended, then to local bakers before they opened and after a delivery of warm fresh baked bread, we’d shoplift and ponce our way up the High Street and outside the tube.

Of an evening we’d take turns doing the rounds of the skips behind the local supermarkets where apart from the ever present yoghurt soaked bread rolls in the bottom sometimes you could get lucky and the whole squat ate, we always shared but usually after we’d eaten our fill.

We were all runaways from something. I don’t think anyone in the squat was old enough to sign on the dole except Cliff, and desperation always nagged. Mickey the Noo was Siobhan’s boyfriend, an I.R.A. supporter from Glasgow with a green Mohican. He’d prowl the underground and rob people as a supplement to begging. Sometimes he took me with him for backing but he always came home with goodies.

The local copper nicked me while poncing for spare change outside Clapham North tube. Being on a two year bender I gave them an alias and they threw me in the cells. They told me I’d been arrested for mugging on the underground, they kept me there for a few days but had to let me go because my accent wasn’t Glaswegian and my mohican wasn’t green and the victim refused to say different. I got back to the squat and warned Mickey who promptly cut his hair off, and the next day he went robbing as a skinhead. He came back that night with two tickets for Siouxsie And The Banshees at the Music Machine. When asked where he got them from he said he’d robbed a couple of punks on the tube, which didn’t go down well. We all refused the spare ticket and the night of the gig we let Mickey go in alone, which was lucky because the people who he’d robbed were waiting in the foyer with the police to point him out. He was dragged off to the nick and we never saw him again.

One morning before Cliff set off for band rehearsals with the Straps, he sat and ate his Frosties in front of us without sharing. After he’d locked his door and gone, Belfast Jake decided that as punishment for being a greedy bastard Cliff deserved to lose his cereal, but instead of breaking Cliff’s new lock Belfast Jake decided to take a hammer to the wall between Cliff’s room and mine. Plaster and lathes lay in rubble on my mattress under the hole, which was big enough to pull the Frosties box through, Belfast Jake ate his fill, then put rubble in the box and returned it through the hole.

When Cliff came home from rehearsals that night he was already in a dejected mood. Apparently he’d been kicked out of the band for always having a glue bag in his face. He sat down and told us the sorry tale of the day’s events without seeing the hole in the wall behind him. As his story petered out we all agreed his luck was truly dire, as he went to unlock his door we all waited, but no hollering. A dejected Cliff just looked at the hole and said “figures” then a big beaming grin took over his face as he sat down with his bowl and milk and said “all a man can do at a time like this is eat his Frosties” and smiled again.

We watched him pour the rubble into his bowl, we tried to suppress our upwelling sniggers, which just made it worse. Cliff didn’t see the funny side and the obvious eruption of boots and fists ended in Belfast Jake nursing a broken bloodied nose on the floor. At that point Rab from downstairs came in to complain about the noise again, being older and more sensible than us and seeing the hole in the wall and the state of Jake he took the opportunity to berate us all for being a useless bunch of cunts and ordered us to shut the fuck up.

The next few days were quiet.

A few days later Siobhan and Deirdre decided the subdued Belfast Jake needed cheering up. He’d been moping in the mirror over his newly bent nose but eventually joined in the rough and tumble wrestling on the floor. It wasn’t long before he yelped again in pain. Siobhan had clumped him in the face, but as his hands left his nose he began smiling. She’d unwittingly knocked it back into place. Belfast Jake hugged her in sheer delight and gratitude.

Staggering up the stairs in Clapham one night I fell and banged my knee. Over the next few days the ache got worse and I had to see a doctor. Balham hospital didn’t know what was up with me but put me in bed in skin traction anyway.

People like to complain about hospital food but when you’re used to bugger all it tasted good. I stashed what I didn’t eat and the visits from the squat dwellers tended to coincide with one meal time or another so others could get a feed as well.

While Michelle stuffed her face with leftover peas and gravy Sarah tried to curb her enthusiasm about all the gigs I had missed, and her excitement about the ones I was going to miss.

The doctors took me into theatre, sedated me and took some fluid from my knee. I dreamed I was back in college, on a field trip to an old church. I felt the same need to escape I had in college but the old church was beautiful, the class entered to look around at the architecture. From the old beams in the roof hung a huge chimney type circular structure almost bell shaped, the bottom of which hung at chest height in the middle of the room, from inside light poured out. The class all bent to look under the rim to see where the light was coming from. The teacher warned too late not to go under. I became weightless and started drifting upwards backside first. I started slowly spinning as I looked down on the faces around the rim as they grew smaller, then spinning faster the higher I was drawn, and faster still into the light. I woke shaking my head back and forth back in traction in bed.

When the doctor made his rounds I told him I was all better now and could I go home now please. The next day they gave me the big plastic bag they’d sealed my clothes up in and a pair of crutches. My clothes were already rotten but as I opened the bag I gagged, I’d left a pot of curry sauce in the donkey jacket pocket which had turned to mould and grown through everything else. I rinsed what I could and dressed.

As I hobbled on crutches out of the ward I was sure the squat could smell me coming.


That night in the Music Machine those crutches got used in various and imaginative ways by several people there, they didn’t last long.

Siobhan and Deirdre needed a bath and didn’t want to use the locals so with a couple of others we set off to my mothers. We walked through the council houses to the large looking house set back on a bend in the road. My father had built it up to look impressive on the outside, but inside it was still the same old building site. The girls had hoped for hot water and maybe a feed but got neither.

I was going back home to Harrow less often, usually to take stuff back that I’d collected, records, clothes and so forth, and to get cleaned up and then see some local mates. I hadn’t been back in a while but when a stranger answered the front door and told me my family had moved I was a bit surprised. He said he didn’t have a clue where they’d moved too and closed the door. My mother had told me on the previous visit that she’d finally agreed to sell the place but I didn’t think it was that long since my last visit.

Her brother lived about a mile up the road so I went knocking on his door to ask if he’d seen them, I discovered they’d moved just round the corner from him. From the sale of the house my father and mother had both paid off their debts and bought this house out right, my father taking a smaller cut he said so myself and my sisters would always have a roof over our heads. My stuff was piled up in the box room but I managed to make a little nest for myself which didn’t feel like home but made a nicer short term escape than the previous house at least for a while away from the squats.

On the phone my dad had told me he and Sue had bought a big house in north London that still had three sitting tenants. He said he’d pay us a hundred quid to squat in it for a week to get rid of them, Five of us moved in, Large Donna, Elaine, Michelle, Curly from Belfast and myself. We had to share a bathroom and toilet with the tenants and totally took the piss. The police were called, I gave a Mickey Mouse name but we were allowed to stay after my father made a show of taking pity on us.

A couple of days later when all was quiet I noticed my dad was there and chanced a knock on his door. He let me in and left. I sat down at the table to wait and Sue came in through the other door behind me, plonked a baby on the table in front of me and said ‘meet your sister’, then also left. The baby looked at me with incomprehension and started to bawl until my father came back to retrieve her and take them both home.

Back in the rooms next door the party continued. The smell of glue permeated the house as strongly as the toilet and the noise, and by the end of the week two of the tenants had left.

Siobhan came back from a gig that night and looked uncharacteristically pensive, then with an innocent face that only an Irish Catholic can pull off said “they just sort of followed me home”. I looked outside, and on the doorstep were nine tenths of the Dusseldorf punks, the more the merrier I thought, and let them in.

At weeks end it was time for Sue to move in with the baby and for us to go, we piled all of our stuff in the back of my father’s van.

Elaine from Blackpool and Sarah had scouted out a couple of possible places back in Clapham so my father dumped us and our pile of stuff by the side of the road on an estate opposite Clapham North tube, gave five of us twenty quid each and left.

The first place we were kicked out of by the police within an hour, the second place though the police left us alone.

It didn’t look too promising to start with, no gas, electricity or water, but I’d been in a dive or two before and soon had the water and gas back on. The electricity though was a problem, there were just two wires sticking out of the wall in the cupboard where a meter should be. We went to a wrecked empty place we’d seen earlier and took the meter then I wired it up in our new place, as the evening grew dark the lights came on to everyone’s approval, before long I had the hot water on too, we all took turns in the bath and settled in.

We saw George with his mate Philippe in the Kings Road and he told us about some exhibition or other and party. He also told us how the artists thought it would be wonderful if some punks came along, George expected us to take the piss and we duly delivered. We ate their food and drank their wine and behaved as degenerates are expected, pockets full and a quarter wheel of Edam in a roll in my hand we set off, next day the whole squat ate and drank.

Next night I bumped into Heidi and some of her mates from Dusseldorf in the Marquee and told them we had a new squat, they came back. Heidi didn’t speak English and I don’t speak German. All we knew about each other was what her mate translated for us, and Belfast Jake had just managed to pull the translator. It didn’t seem to matter, we enjoyed each other immensely and when we could drag ourselves from the bed I showed her the Kings Road.

It started to rain; we took shelter in the doorway of Boy. Heidi was stunning, tall and slim, fit, beautiful and blonde, a kind of German Debbie Harry.

Jock Strap who worked in Boy had clocked her and zeroed in. He started his fast raw Glaswegian patter not knowing she couldn’t speak a word of English. Seeing my growing amusement she smiled sweetly, which just encouraged Jock all the more. She certainly kept us out the rain that day.

A few weeks after she’d gone back to Dusseldorf the postman knocked on the door. Heidi had sent a food parcel to the squat and we all remembered her well.

I came back one morning after a gig and party to find Belfast Jake in the street outside the squat smoking a dog end and looking unusually pensive. He was acting odd but only said “you should have been here last night, Leah was off her head” and tried to laugh. He came in with me, walked in the front room (mine and Leah’s bedroom) and sat down.

He had an awkward smile on his face as he asked Leah “do you remember last night?”, she looked at him coldly and said “I remember you all fucked me” and stared straight at him some more. Belfast Jake’s head hung in shame and his red cheeks tried to pull a smile as if it were a joke.

Leah reminded me of my youngest sister. I actually got on with Leah and I felt guilty for years that I wasn’t there to stop them from abusing her on that night.

Out on the ponce I bumped into Mitch. She said her, Ruthless, Aussie Bob and a few others had a new place. I went back with her to a severe Victorian looking block on an estate behind Lambeth North tube station.

Campbell Buildings were being pulled down due to them being old infested shitholes that were already crumbling, but Ruthless was very accommodating so I stayed. The place was filthy but Ruthless and Mitch had found ways to combat the pile up of rubbish by sweeping it into the corners and under the carpet.

Apart from the smell this worked fine for a while, until one fine sunny day when light found its way into the corners of the room as well. At first my eyes noticed but my brain didn’t register that the carpet was moving all by itself in the sunlight. While my brain caught up Mitch noticed me staring at the gently undulating carpet in the corner of the room. She got up and beckoned me over then she pulled the carpet back to reveal a thick layer of maggots. There must have been thousands of them, but apparently they got rid of the rubbish so were left alone ‘for the time being’.

As the council emptied the next block in line for demolition the squatters started to move in and the quicker they did the quicker the remaining tenants moved out.

It was early 1980 and the punk squat community had spread. Campbell Buildings would soon became an over spill for all the squats in London and the surrounding areas, runaways from family and childrens homes, asylums, estates and suburbs from all over Britain, Ireland and beyond.

I saw Scarecrow in the Marquee, I hadn’t seen him for a while, he was looking well, back with his folks, clean and healthy, I said to him “you’ve got to come back and see where we’re living now”. The gigs and parties were almost endless by then and acquiring drugs for free had become an essential.

Dr Manch was the local GP in a dingy little ground floor office come surgery. He was a short chubby, pasty faced Greek looking man who sweated profusely. He had a haunted hangdog expression etched into his face, as if he’d been carrying his deflated pride around in his tatty fake leather bag with his whiskey for too many years. His surgery smelled of musk alcohol sweat and urine, or maybe that was just him, but he knew his job and wrote prescriptions endlessly for us all.

I’d told him that I couldn’t sleep, and at first he’d tried to explain the wonders of a good days work, but seeing only incomprehension and bafflement he soon gave up and palmed us off with mogadon or dalmane, but after one of the girls from the squats had sat in front of him with a handful of tuinol and said “if you don’t give me something stronger I’ll swallow the lot” he kind of gave in to us all.

For a time it seemed like half the punk squatters in London went to him.

I bumped into Slut out on the ponce one day, She used to live with Slag and Scrubber in Brixton before I knew them. The film ‘The Great Rock And Roll Swindle’ had just come out and it was showing at a cinema at Piccadilly Circus. Slut had some money from ‘working the ‘dilly’ that day so she took me to see the film.

Afterwards we got off our heads, and she came back to the squat. Next day she went to see Dr Manch.

Police raids were a regular thing that we’d all become used to, so to prevent our stashes of pills from the good doctor being regularly confiscated we’d started to hide them in more inventive ways. The police were stumped for a while, until one night the squat caught fire. This was nothing new for Campbell Buildings, but when some extremely stoned punks refused to leave a burning squat in favour of removing all the ceiling tiles, it didn’t take long for the police to figure out and inform the fire brigade, that we weren’t doing it because we were only trying to be helpful.

We’d began to push the pills one by one into the large polystyrene ceiling tiles that were to be found in every squat there, and if we didn’t get them out we’d lose our collective stash. The fact that the tiles were inflammable, and once alight dripped fire on everything below, was the reason many a squat was lost to fire in the first place, that and us finding varied and colourful ways of ‘accidentally’ igniting them.


We went to see the UK Subs support Generation X at the Lyceum. The place was packed, but most of the ‘proper’ punks were there for the UK Subs because Generation X had become ‘Top Of The Pops’ sell-outs by then. There were loads of trendy poseurs there to see them though. There were also loads of the Whitton punks there. They were a part of the Subs crew in the early days and now the Subs were getting a bit more recognition so were the Whitton.

As the UK Subs set came to an end all you could hear from the crowd was a continual chant of ‘Subs Subs Subs’ interspersed with ‘Whitton Whitton’. When Generation X came on the chanting continued. For the first four numbers all you could hear from the crowd was ‘Subs Subs Subs’.

I was walking up the stairs at the side to the balcony when I noticed a beer can sailing, in what seemed like a slow motion perfect arc. Through the air and lights it flew to the stage and hit Billy Idol straight and hard in the head. He staggered off stage leaving the band to play to the chanting crowd by themselves. When the song finished there was a minute of silence from the stage, and all that could be heard was the chant.


Eventually Billy Idol came back on stage with his arm around Charlie Harpers shoulder; Charlie took the mike and implored the crowd to “give them a chance, they’re a good band really” and left. So did most of the crowd.

Campbell Buildings early one evening without a gig and still long hours before the soup kitchens arrival Ruthless had the idea we should try to fend off starvation by eating the local feral cats. That night out on the scrounge we kept our eyes open, there were plenty to choose from.

As I tried to coax one closer, instinctively on some level, one vicious little fucker recognised another, and even let me pick him up before turning into something like the Tasmanian devil in my arms. It flew straight at my face all four paws and teeth, a spitting hissing ball of ginger fluff and mange. I desperately tried to unhinge him but the bastard sliced my face and nearly had my eye. He gouged my hand and my arm through the leather jacket but I finally managed to untangle us, lever the bastard off and eject him up the street where he landed on all fours running, balls and tail in the air, before turning the corner he looked back, sprayed in my general direction then disappeared.

As we checked the bins on the way to the soup kitchen my cat allergy set in and I thought ‘there are easier ways to get a meal’.

On the way to the soup kitchen at night the cobblestones always looked wet; the smell of rot was greeted by decay the closer you got until the last street lamp before the arches faded.

The viaducts under Waterloo station were like red brick cathedrals to the damp filthy and stinking remains of the streets. Winos, tramps, beggars, thieves, junkies, lowlife and punks all crowded around dustbin fires or in queue at the old van with its two milk urns full of soup.

When a train wasn’t rattling over us or one of the other viaducts, the sound fell enough to hear the odd spit from the fire or curse from a dosser, just to be covered again by the next rattling train.

After standing in line for a paper cupful of soup and a bread roll the fire looked tempting.

Sometimes you could squeeze between the dossers and up close to the fire, then try to fend off hunger with the piss weak soup while watching the rats around the edges who fed off the rot, and the feral cats who fed off the rats.

Of an evening in Campbell Buildings it was sometimes necessary to escape to the roofs, not only from the police, or the noise, or another burned out squat, or the increasing tribes of invaders who were always on the prowl for punk squats to wreck. But just because it was nice up there.

There was something very comforting about listening to the Kinks playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Lola’ on Ruthless’s little cassette recorder, while watching the sun go down over Waterloo station. I never saw the river from the roofs of Campbell Buildings but I’m convinced I smelt it.

Campbell Buildings had now become an overflow for all the dregs of all the squats in London. For runaways from children’s homes, asylums, council estates and broken suburban nightmares. I’d known for a while that I had to get out of there.

I left one night and went back to Harrow and bumped into Tony A, who was squatting in Hounslow with the Whitton punks and I decided to join him. The next morning I went back to Campbell Buildings to get my stuff and say my ‘see you laters’.

I found Indian Keith crying. He told me he had gone up on the roofs that morning and found Scarecrow dead on his back. He had called the police who’d arrived, and abruptly told Keith to fuck off, he said. While they were waiting for the mortuary van to arrive the two coppers were flicking little stone’s from the roof at Scarecrows face trying to land them in his open mouth.

Later that day Keith lead the toast to Scarecrow with tuinol and Merrydown cider, I left them to it.











Flux / Annie Anxiety / Tackhead Sound System / AR Kane / D&V – U.L.U London – 28/11/86





I was in attendance at this Flux gig. The first time witnessing Flux (Of Pink Indians) live on stage for two or three years. It was quite a change from the old militaristic Crass style Flux sound of 1982-1983 to a more 23 Skidoo style Flux sound in 1986. From that sound to this in just a few short years! I was already aware of ONU Sound, Tackhead Sound System and Adrian Sherwood and I was looking forward to attending this gig. It did not disappoint.

KYPP is indebted to Lee Oliver for the loan of the two C90 tapes that he recorded from a hand held cassette recorder from this One Little Indian / ONU Sound night at U.L.U in central London. He managed to cover just about all the audio from the night and the audio sounds very reasonable.

Lee has also kindly written some text regarding the night and his thoughts about Flux Of Pink Indians prior to the gig along with the Flux poster for this performance. A massive thanks to him for that.

Also a huge thank you to Martin Flux who also contributed a whole heap of interesting text to this KYPP post.

Thanks also to Graham Burnett who supplied the photographs of Flux and Annie Anxiety performing on the night. Both Flux flyers from the collection of Penguin!

1986 was a funny old year. In musical chronology it felt like a dramatic turning point. The dominance of UK created music was ending. I was opening up to the styles and influences from further afield. It seems crazy now but what was going on across the Atlantic seemed other- worldly. Even Europe was a distant influence.

As 1985 turned into 1986 the direction of flow was changing, especially in the ‘punk scene’. The emergence of hip hop alongside funk percussive styles, dub and even that old warhorse, metal, were permeating into bands’ developments.

The transition from Flux of Pink Indians to Flux was one of the most divergent and to my ears the most exciting development in that year.

The EP, ‘Taking A Liberty’, their previous release before ‘Uncarved Block’, was a howl of frustration. Musique Concrete re-imagined through the most extreme anarcho-punk. It felt like an ending, a full stop. There was nothing more to say.

I interviewed Flux for my fanzine at the time (long lost I’m afraid to say). It was at their place in Forest Hill. The living room was spacious with beautiful wooden floors and bookshelves heaving with books. A hessian sack with the corn stalk emblem used on the cover of the first Antisect LP hung above one of the sofas. Lu and Tim from Flux attempted to answer our quite possibly naïve teenage questions about the state of the world and where ‘punk was going’. I could sense their desire to experiment how their music was presented to open up to a wider audience, a frustration with preaching to the converted if you will. I left feeling a mixture of uncertainties and excitement about how they were going to achieve that.

The concert at the University of London on Friday 28th November 1986 showcased the new Flux sound of ‘Uncarved Block’. The supporting acts were a direct challenge to punk orthodoxy. The fragmented sound poetry collages of Annie Anxiety, the beat minimalism of D&V, abstract noise pop from A.R.Kane and the sound of the future, Tackhead Sound System, bringing their tour de force heavy duty dub funk.

The whole line-up seemed to be a premonition of the rhythmic beat of ‘rave culture’ that would explode across the strands of the undercurrents in the following two years. The free jazz record playing between acts (Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry ??) was another pointer to what was to come.

Finally Flux played. It wasn’t punk as such, loose funk rhythms, percussive interludes, space, lyrics chanted, hypnotic. Words about personal politics, The Tao of Pooh, re-evaluation.

I was under the impression this was the only time they performed as Flux, someone might be able to confirm or correct this. Anyway shortly after this night Flux disappeared forever. The conclusion I felt was that it was an eye opener, another step in my appreciation of different musical styles and strands.

For that alone ‘Uncarved Block’ is a masterpiece.


The Flux performance at U.L.U was the only time myself and my older brother had been on stage together and the last. Paul Wilson was my older sibling by three years or so. He was a drummer and inspired me to follow the same path. Having a drum set around the family house in my formative years did not hurt either.

Paul was the original drummer for the Psychedelic Furs in 1977 until he was replaced by Vince Ely in 1978 or 1979 when my brother celebrated his wedding anniversary instead of being able to perform with the band at the Zig Zag club in Westbourne Park, west London. This gig was not insignificant as it was a music biz affair put on by C.B.S and the Psychedelic Furs were not yet signed, although very close to being so. Tracy Lee the then manager gave all the band a weeks notice of this important billing and Paul and his wife had already made plans for that night. Seeing as Pauls wife was already upset at Paul walking around with make up on, as was the image of the band at that time, he felt it proper to keep to the original arrangements for that week. The performance slot for Psychedelic Furs at the gig did not happen for this reason and my brother was ousted.

Life continued. Paul took a back seat and I eventually joined Flux Of Pink Indians after a succession of drummers left including Sid concentrating on Rubella Ballet and Bambi who went to join Discharge (or did he leave Discharge to join Flux Of Pink Indians?).

In 1982 Flux Of Pink Indians performed all over the country as main support for Crass alongside D.I.R.T and Annie Anxiety. During this treks across the country we met many other bands including D&V.

Andy Leach the drummer for D&V stepped onto the stage as the Flux Of Pink Indians drummer one night in Birmingham Digbeth Hall (or some Civic Hall of some kind) when some kindly skinheads with an iron bar decided to try to crack my head open. Thanks to him for that. I recovered to eventually return this kind of favour for D.I.R.T at the squatted Zig Zag club gig when Fox walked off the stage mid set for some reason. He never returned to D.I.R.T. I also drummed in Iceland for Crass of all bands when Penny was left in North Weald with a perforated ear drum. Penny and I had the same militaristic drumming style so I fitted that Crass set quiet well.

As a member of Flux Of Pink Indians I was involved in the making of the ‘Strive To Survive’ album in 1982. This record along with the follow up ‘Fucking Cunts’ in 1984 were both recorded at Southern Studios and during both those sessions we would meet Adrian Sherwood doing his work there with his ONU Sound artists. Little did we know that a few years later Adrian Sherwood would be engineering recordings for Flux Of Pink Indians!

Fast forward to 1986.

Derek had given up the Spiderleg record label and had started a more progressive label called One Little Indian alongside Tim another member of Flux Of Pink Indians. Derek had also had a falling out with John Loder at Southern Studios. AR Kane was one of the first bands to record for One Little Indian records. I played drums for the band on a few tracks later on, but for this first release the band had a drum machine. Adrian Sherwood was sitting pretty in the public with endless purely wonderful releases from his label ONU Sound. Mark Stewart And The Maffia, Tackhead and African Headcharge. Bonjo I and Style Scott were part of this ONU set up.

Derek decided that Flux Of Pink Indians should record for his new record label, but also the band name should change as well as the sound of the band. We all agreed to this as far as I can remember. We had not performed live or recorded anything since 1984. Things were pretty slow.

Colin, Derek, Tim, Lu and myself struggled with different sounds, and while the ideas were formed we had some input from Ray Shulman of the progressive band Gentle Giant. His effect on the band should not be underestimated. He bought a mad violin sound to the table and the trumpet. Bonjo I also came to the same table, as did Adrian Sherwood.

We started recording ‘Uncarved Block’ with Adrian Sherwood at Berry Street studios. The recording sessions as far as I remember was turning out well. There was one time when Adrian had an important meeting to collect ‘something for the weekend’ and left Derek in the engineers chair for some of Bonjo I’s percussion recording. Adrian had made a career in dealing with Rastafarian musicians. Derek however had not. Derek recorded the material that Bonjo I was only practicing and not recording the material that Bonjo I thought was to be recorded. Bonjo I was speaking in very thick Jamaican patois and Derek struggled to understand a lot of it. I was in the control room and Derek was asking me what was said, generally to a shoulder shrug. This whole episode was frustrating to Bonjo I and he was getting quite angry. He stood up and took out a large knife entering the control room with what we both thought at the time, some menace. He got a mango out of a ruck sack and started to cut it up. Worry over. Adrian came back eventually wide eyed and sorted out any unusable material we had created with Bonjo I!

Another memory that sticks in my mind was when a few days after I had completed my drum parts, Derek played me the tape and there seemed to be another drum going throughout the tracks. This sounded unusual. I asked what that was, Derek replied Style Scott came in and did a few sessions with Adrian! I knew nothing at the time and remember feeling a little let down as I could have completed a separate drum track easily enough. However with hindsight shortly afterwards I realised having someone like Style Scott on a Flux record engineered by Adrian Sherwood at Berry Street is not a bad look at all!

We had the recordings in the can and the record was released on One Little Indian records prior to the performance at U.L.U in November so interested punters would know what kind of sound Flux were going to showcase.

Come the time of the gig we all got to the venue early as there was a lot of sound checking to do. Not just bass, guitars and drums.

The night was organised as a One Little Indian / Tackhead Sound System night. Adrian Sherwood was on the mixing desk all night. Our old friends Annie Anxiety and D&V were both set to perform to mainly backing tracks. AR Kane who were new to me, were also on the bill. They had a drum machine to add to the mix.

Flux had two drummers as mentioned above, both siblings, not myself and Style Scott like the studio recordings.
Flux had Bonjo I to fit into the mix.
Flux had vocals, bass and guitars.
Flux had violin and trumpet courtesy of Ray Shulman.
Flux also has a scaffold pole filled up with metallic things that made a racket when wacked with a drum stick. Fire extinguishers, pot and pans.

Adrian took care in making sure all this was at the correct level in the mix. He also had to mix the Tackhead Sound System along with various MC’s and so forth.

Adrian was a busy guy on the night, and needed a little speed to keep him going….

I watched all the bands / artists on the night as far as I can remember.

D&V, my old friends also had many backing tracks and played a blinder. Several years previously D&V would have had a problem with the crowds when supporting Crass and other bands of that ilk. Happily I remember that they got a decent reception.

AR Kane were sublime, and as mentioned earlier I eventually drummed for them on a few tracks that were eventually released.

Annie Anxiety smoked and drunk half a bottle of spirits to calm her nerves prior to getting on the stage “OK ready for the fucking show now boys” she stated loudly. A blinding set from her to a receptive audience for a change. Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980s appearing numerous times alongside Crass she would not always get a decent reception.

All the bands / artists on the bill went onto to release records for One Little Indian as far as I am aware.

Adrian Sherwood held all the differing sounds on the night nice and tight and after every performance the Tackhead Sound System would get a positive reception. This was not incidental music between bands; this was part of the performance. It was loud I remember that.

Flux went on with all the extra musicians and completely enjoyed the night. I think the audience did to from what I remember seeing. I do not remember doing an encore, not due to the band not feeling appreciated but due to just performing ‘Uncarved Block’. Once all those tracks that appeared on the record were completed the band left the stage. Flux were not going to come back on to perform ‘Tube Disasters’ or anything like that!

After the performance I stayed for the rest of the Tackhead Sound System. Bonjo I wanted paying in cash for the nights work which took the band by surprise. He had just been released from detention due to some misdemeanour which if I remember rightly might have been a violent misdemeanour so we thought it better not to argue with him. We had to get some cash double quick to pay Bonjo I off and when we scraped some money together he disappeared!

Sometime after this U.L.U performance we went to Europe to try the new set out there.

A wrong move was not to take Adrian Sherwood, my brother Paul, Bonjo I or Ray. We thought we could cover the new set as a five piece (back to Flux Of Pink Indians not the nine piece Flux). At the Paradiso in Amsterdam we not only sounded hollow and bombed, but the audience were also disappointed as an rap artist who was expected to perform on the same night had not turned up to perform for the gig. Added to this everyone was expecting the Adrian Sherwood Tackhead style night. Flux were a very poor second! Ditto the above for Hague in Holland and Antwerp in Belgium…
Not a great little European jaunt, but the U.L.U performance in my mind was one of the best gigs I performed in.

Flux played one more time in 1991 at the Dome in Tufnell Park alongside Hotalacio Sound System which was Colins version of the Tackhead Sound System. I remember that this gig was packed, but again it was not the same as the U.L.U performance. Adrian Sherwood, Bonjo I and Ray really made that performance, and indeed the record (along with Style Scott) stand the test of time.


The Laila Mythology – Beltane Festival

I remember visits to Penguin Towers from Laila along with her father Vince several years ago. She was a beautiful and bright toddler in those days. Fast forward several years and adding a lot of effort, time and imagination, Vince and Laila’s mother Donna, along with Laila herself are on the brink of releasing a film full of fantasy, wonder and hopefully a happy ending!

Vince has also called on his old friend Penny Rimbaud from Crass, a band that Vince shared stages with up and down the country dozens of times with D.I.R.T throughout the early 1980’s, to feature in this film.

The wonderful setting of Dial House and surrounding countryside were used as part of the films numerous locations. Sid from Rubella Ballet has had a hand in the soundtrack of this film.

I am looking forward to seeing the results on a big screen at some point in the future.

The photographs from Dial House are from the collection of Mickey ‘Penguin’ and the text on Beltane lovingly poached from thewhitegoddess website.

The film stills are from the Facebook page dedicated to ‘The Laila Mythology’ which may be found HERE

The Laila Mythology

It is written in Celtic folklore that the roots of the hawthorn tree transcend the two worlds. A factualism that was soon to be realised by a young girl named Laila.

Whilst out on a spring saunter in Epping woods, Laila is inexplicably set upon and despoiled of her treasured necklace by an insane opportunistic magpie. Subsequently she finds herself on a search for its recovery, but soon discovers more than she had bargained for, when the magpie who stole it turns out to be none other than a nefarious shaman named Ibora, who appears to have mistaken her pendant for that of a mythical jewel known as the Brisingamen.

Luring her down through the roots of a gigantic hawthorn tree into the underworld, Laila is inadvertently transported into a magical land where Ogres and Wyvern frequent and where the sanctity of nature is no longer revered by humanity.

Befriended by Jack, a huge Green man who has the ability to converse with trees and with the help of a wise old wizard named Yan Overton, Laila desperately tries to get back to her world, with or without her necklace, but in order to do so she must first find the legendary Omega tree, the last of the ancient hawthorns or ‘world trees’.

But with all ancient world trees condemned by order of Queen Lhanna, a tyrannous sorceress whose lust for power impels her to kill her own sister Isla in order to gain complete total control of the world, Laila’s quest seems almost futile.

But soon she discovers the secret whereabouts of the Omega tree, far away in the Goblin lands and the reasoning behind Lhanna’s condemnation of ancient trees.

It is prophesised in the underworld that Geborga, a gigantic dragon created by the evil Queens sister to protect the forests before she perished would return once more in to the underworld through the portal of a world tree and bring peace into the world and the subsequent demise of her sister Lhanna. With such a foreboding prospect for the Queen, all portals in and out of the underworld are to be indiscriminately felled.

But with her only means of escape under threat, Laila finds herself in a race against time.

Making her way surreptitiously across the treacherous Goblin lands to the Omega tree in the company of the Green man and a Changeling named Lon Attilia, Laila can almost smell the sweet scent of home, but before reaching the town of Puo Landum in the heart of the Grayweald where the mythical tree is said to grow, she is unexpectedly betrayed by her Changeling cohort who turns out to be a servant of the Queen, and had masqueraded himself as her ally in order to discover the location of the tree.

Laila then unwittingly becomes the catalyst to a war between the despotic Queen and the race of Goblins, as Lhanna’s armies invade the Grayweald with the intent of destroying the Omega tree as well as their Goblin adversaries.

A great battle then ensues throughout the forests of the underworld as the Goblin hordes fight for their survival against an unremitting force. But with such overwhelming opposition it is only a matter of time before the last of the world trees is finally raised to the ground and the Goblins are forced to retreat into exile, leaving Laila trapped in the underworld forever.

But Jack, her trusty companion has not lost hope and believes the answer may lie in the place of their first meeting. So immediately they make their way with haste back towards the old wood but are ambushed en route by Queen Lhanna and her forces.

A brief skirmish breaks out as Jack fights desperately to protect Laila but is sadly slain by the powerful sorceress. Overwrought by the devastating loss of the green man, Laila’s sorrow appears to create a huge storm in the skies overhead and the world is cast into darkness. The earth then begins to shake as Geborga the dragon is awoken by his master’s voice and rises up from out of the mountain lake.

Realising that Laila is the reincarnation of her murdered sister Isla; Lhanna attempts to kill her but is beheaded by Ibora, her shamanic servant in an act of retribution for Isla’s fratricide.

In the aftermath of the storm, after the dust had settled, Laila finds herself inexplicably back home in Epping Forest with her pendant in her hand and Yan Overton the old wizard, walking over to greet her. He explains that her journey into the otherworld was predetermined and her purpose for going there, as well as what became of Jack, the green man.

As Laila makes her way home she wonders how on earth she can relate her amazing adventures to her family, but understands that she will never be the same person ever again.

The Fire Festival of Beltane

This festival is also known as Beltane, the Celtic May Day. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year.

It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The rituals were held to promote fertility. The cattle were driven between the Belfires to protect them from ills.

Contact with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun. In early Celtic times, the druids kindled the Beltane fires with specific incantations.

Later the Christian church took over the Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. The rowan branch is hung over the house fire on May Day to preserve the fire itself from bewitchment (the house fire being symbolic of the luck of the house).

This is a holiday of Union–both between the Goddess and the God and between man and woman. Handfastings (Pagan marriages) are traditional at this time. It is a time of fertility and harvest, the time for reaping the wealth from the seeds that we have sown.

Celebrations include braiding of one’s hair (to honour the union of man and woman and Goddess and God), circling the Maypole for fertility and jumping the Beltane fire for luck. Beltane is one of the Major Sabbats of the Wiccan religion. We celebrate sexuality (something we see as holy and intrinsic to us as holy beings), we celebrate life and the unity which fosters it.

The myths of Beltane state that the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. Together, they learn the secrets of the sexual and the sensual, and through their union, all life begins.

Beltane is the season of maturing life and deep found love. This is the time of vows, handfastings and commitment. The Lord and his Lady, having reached maturity, come together in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to celebrate the joy of their union.

This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies. Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desired the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms and unite.

The flowers and greenery symbolise the Goddess and the Maypole represents the God. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion of summer. Another common focal point of the Beltane rituals is the cauldron, which represents the Goddess. The Welsh goddess Creiddylad is connected with Beltane, often called the May Queen, she was a Goddess of summer flowers and love.

May Day

May Day has long been marked with feasts and rituals. May poles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people arose at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the village Maypoles.

The May Queen (and often King) is chosen from among the young people, and they go singing from door to door throughout the town carrying flowers or the May tree, soliciting donations for merrymaking in return for the “blessing of May”.

This is symbolic of bestowing and sharing of the new creative power that is stirring in the world. As the kids go from door to door, the May Bride often sings to the effect that those who give will get of nature’s bounty through the year.

In parts of France, some jilted youth will lie in a field on May Day and pretend to sleep. If any village girl is willing to marry him, she goes and wakes him with a kiss; the pair then goes to the village inn together and lead the dance which announces their engagement. The boy is called “the betrothed of May.”

Defiant Pose fanzine

I love a nice surprise and today I get home to find Defiant Pose fanzine volume 8 on my doorstep out of the blue. Included within the package a beautiful 7″ record by Rema Rema. A 7″ record on the heaviest vinyl I have had the pleasure of holding! Been on the record player over and over since the opening. There are ten pages on Rema Rema alone inside the fanzine, three pages on The Stench (from 1976), eight pages on The Heretics and three pages on Blood And Roses. That’s my reading material sorted out for the next couple of days! Thanks to Mike Clarke (Defiant Pose head honcho and also the guitarist from Decadent Few) for sending me this wonderful fanzine and record… Every like minded soul should get a copy of this package. Please browse and order this or other volumes of Defiant Pose from Mike Clarkes website HERE.

Limited edition sleeve artwork (thirty copies world wide)

Normal sleeve artwork

I started a fanzine in 1978 called Love And Romance, we planned to interview the Slits, Subway Sect and Siouxsie, but it fell apart in the planning stage. The singer of They Must Be Russians found out Siouxsie’s real surname and rang her mum’s phone number in Chislehurst, Kent and kept ringing it. I think Siouxsie herself was having her Sunday dinner there one day and gave him a mouthful when he called for the umpteenth time. I managed to almost interview Tessa from the Slits down the Portobello Road but we drank too much and smoked too many of the joints piled inside her handbag and both gradually lost the ability to form sentences. The other guy helping me met the Subway Sect at their rehearsal place, but they just stared at him catatonically whilst picking at their Oxfam jumpers and he forgot to turn the cassette recorder on, so that was that.

I got Defiant Pose going in 1980, did 3 scrappy issues by 1981, nothing important; a mate used to print them at his work after everyone went home. We would sell them to people in the street, deliberately not always to punks. The only positive thing was I moaned how nothing was happening locally and a month later two new fanzines started in Slough and sent me copies so it does work sometimes!

The fanzine came back in 2001 because I’d written a lot of stuff in the intervening years so had some friends, and suddenly we had the time to do it again. We thought most fanzines were stuck in the same dull blueprint they’d followed since the mid-80’s and lost that attitude. It’s also a conscious alternative to the interminable array of UK `zines that simply follow the US format of columns/reviews. After X amount of years of doing a label we rarely got an order based on a good `zine review, especially compared to the impact of seeing a band live. People have called Defiant Pose nostalgic, but we wrote so much stuff that it’ll take a few issues to get up to date with it all!

Mike Defiant Pose

Defiant Pose fanzine volume 7 – Mike compiled two issues of the same fanzine in two formats A4 (44 pages) and A5 (80 pages) respectively.
Both versions of this volume features UK fanzines 1976-84 from early punk through to Better Badges, post-punk / hardcore. All the fanzines featured and the history of, exhaustively written about by Mike himself, cover London, Manchester, Sheffield, Ireland and Scotland.
Ripped & Torn, Kill Your Pet Puppy, Crass and anarcho punk are featured. Interviews, graphics and some reprints.
Only 100 are available on both print runs I believe. The A4 version has the same text as the A5 version but different layout and graphics.
I been lucky enough to have been sent a copy several weeks ago now and if you enjoy the history of the punk fanzine culture you’ll be glad to own this absorbing artefact.

Defiant Pose – London Gig Flyers 1977 – 1997 – A limited print run of 100 copies for this fanzine that has dozens of quality scans of rare punk flyers from Mikes own collection! Well worth getting if the print run has not already sold out…

Rubella Ballet – The new recordings

Rubella Ballet

‘Planet Punk’

Overground Records

OVER135CD : 689492142025 & OVER134LP : 689492142018 (Green vinyl w/CD)

Release date: 31st March 2014

“They were the band who bridged the gaps between The Sex Pistols, X Ray Spex, and Crass.” TylerVile Punk Globe Dec 2014.

Rubella Ballet formed in 1979, with the nucleus of the band coming from a gig where Crass invited the audience to use their equipment and finish the gig. The band toured with Crass and the Poison Girls before touring with many other punk and goth bands. Rubella Ballet hail from the Anarcho punk scene but are equally at home playing the Goth scene as they were a part of its early conception.

The band became infamous for creating the Day-glo Death Rock punk scene with their different and innovative style of music and the shock value of wearing ultraviolet day-glo clothes.  Louise Gray, our hottest British designer, has credited Zillah Minx as an influence on her designs.”Zillah Minx of Rubella Ballet – she was one of the originators of punk in London. She wore colours and used UV paint to make her clothes and sets for gigs so everything was illuminated! I LOVE HER” – Louise Gray, Elle Magazine May 2013.

Rubella Ballet released their first single ‘Ballet Dance’ in 1982 and also in the same year released their debut album, ‘Ballet Bag’, a creatively packaged cassette only album. They released a further two studio albums and four singles as well as various compilations. This will be their first album of new material since 1986’s ‘If’.

Sid and Zillah were inspired to start writing this album containing highly motivated and political songs about a variety of subjects such as: government brainwashing, the creation of new strains of flu virus to reduce human population, the police cover up of Hillsborough stadium disaster as well as a chance meeting with two whistle-blowing MI5/6 agents who had been monitoring their political activities in the 80s and were now working with William Rodriguez, a caretaker at the twin towers who had dedicated his life to telling the world what he believed really happened during 9/11.

Sid explains “The overriding message of the album is to not to believe every thing you hear on the news or read in the newspapers, as the very same people we are protesting against are those compiling the news.

“Thank Christ for Rubella Ballet! Punk went from being this fun colourful place to be, to all these miserable bastards wearing black! I knew what I’d see there (Crass Gigs) I knew what I’d hear played there…. and bands like Rubella Ballet where a breath of fresh air“ – Steve Ignorant, Crass. The Day The Country Died

Track listing:                                                                   

Planet Punk/ All Potential Terrorists/ Run Run/ Killuminati/ Pandora’s Box/ Anonymous/ Hellbilly Heroin/ Bio Hazard/ Silver Or Lead/ Wonderful Life/ You’ll Be Sorry/ Sedition/ Victory For The Victims/ Vampire Wedding/ Starship Transporter

Overground Records –

Get your signed copies of Planet Punk the new album from Rubella Ballet OUT NOW. For signed copies on rare Matt sleeve send £10 + £3.75 p&p UK. Europe P&P is £5.95, Australia, New Zealand, Japan & U.S.A is £8.95. P&P. via Pay Pal to for your personally signed copies signed by Zillah Minx (as seen in the picture) and Sid.HURRY while stocks last. only 500 with matt finish

Rubella Ballet 1982 material may be found on KYPP HERE

There are other posts on the site, live recordings and the Peel session if you use the search function.

Everyone is an Anarchist

This is the second draft of a talk I will be giving to an Anarchist Seminar at Glasgow University’s Dumfries Campus on April 9th 2014.

I am posting it now so I can include feedback / comments in the final draft. I have written a lot about the punk side of anarcho-punk, but this is the first time I have written from the perspective of the anarcho side…

Thanks to Tony B for supplying the Autonomy Centre poster and Penguin for the KYPP bits and bobs. Thanks to Chris Low for supplying the Stop The City flyers.

On 3rd January 1979, in the middle of the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’ I arrived at the London Rubber Company’s east London factory to start a new job as a trainee draughtsman. I had started working for the company in one their factories in Gloucestershire in 1977. The year before, while I was briefly a student, I had joined an anarchist group at Stirling University and started buying Black Flag. I had also signed up to Stuart Christie’s Ceinfeugos Press paying £2 a month to receive copies of the books they published.

A few months after arriving in London I was invited to a Black Flag / Ceinfeugos readers meeting above a pub on the Kings Road. This turned out to be a support group meeting for the defendants in the Persons Unknown Anarchist Conspiracy Trial which was to begin in September, so as well as Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer I met Iris Mills and Ronan B and I think Dave Morris of later McLibel Trial was also there.

Iris and Ronan were acquitted and after the acquittal, Ronan had the idea of setting up an anarchist social centre in London. To raise funds for this social centre, the notionally anarchist punk groups Crass and the Poison Girls were approached to make a benefit record for the centre which was released in 1980. As a result of this connection, at one of the planning meetings in early December 1979 I met a group of punks.

The meeting was held in the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square and after the meeting we all went to the nearest pub where I got into conversation with them and found that they produced a punk fanzine called ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’. Tony Drayton of the Puppy Collective as they called themselves had started his first fanzine called ’Ripped and Torn’ back in 1976. This was a very well-known punk fanzine. We had a lengthy conversation and when I got back to my bedsit in Ilford I bashed out a letter to Tony inspired by our conversation.

At the next planning meeting in January, Tony gave me a copy of Kill Your Puppy number two which had my letter in it. I was impressed, as it was a very long letter!

I then started visiting the Puppy Collective at weekends and became a regular contributor to the fanzine as AL Puppy.

To backtrack a little before moving on, Tony had started ‘Ripped and Torn’ while he was living in Glasgow. He then moved to London in early 1977 and lived in various squat in west London which later that year declared themselves the Independent Republic of Frestonia. In one of the squats, which had been a bookshop Tony found a collection of underground magazines – issues of OZ, Frendz and International Times from the late sixties and early seventies. At the time most punk fanzines were photocopied in black and white, but, when Kill Your Pet Puppy was being planned Tony was able to do a deal with Joly McPhie of Better Badges to use their colour photocopiers to print the new magazine. Joly had been part of the late sixties, early seventies west London counter-culture and encouraged Tony to make Kill Your Pet Puppy into a punk version of OZ or International Times.

1978 – 1979 also saw a skinhead revival and the skinheads began attacking punk squats and disrupting punk gigs, including Crass ones.  Rock Against racism was very big in 1978 and overlapped with the Anti-Nazi League which was a Socialist Worker Party organisation. The National Front tried to counter this by setting up Rock Against Communism gigs which were popular with skinheads. In an attempt to distance themselves from what they saw as the politicisation of punk, Crass decided that they would become anarchists. This new stance was reflected in the lyrics of ‘White Punks on Hope’ written in early 1979.

 Pogo on a Nazi, spit upon a Jew

 Vicious mindless violence that offers nothing new

 Left wing violence, right wing violence all seems much the same

 Bully boys out fighting, it’s just the same old game

 Boring fucking politics that’ll get us all shot

 Left wing, right wing, you can stuff the lot

 Keep your petty prejudice, I don’t see the point

 Anarchy and freedom is what I want

This did not solve the problem of violence at their gigs. This led Leigh Kendall, an Australian anarchist, punk and member of the band Last Words, to write a short article in Kill Your Pet Puppy number one, titled ‘Peaceful Pro- Crass- tination- a critical look at Crass peaceful anarchy stance ’ commitment to peaceful anarchism in relation to violence at their gigs’.  Crass then invited Leigh and Tony Drayton to discuss the problem- which they did. It turned out that Crass had very little knowledge of anarchism. Penny Rimbaud of Crass was later to say [in The Story of Crass by George Berger]

“In all honesty I wasn’t aware of anarchism until about year one into Crass …We had got a peace banner to tell people we weren’t interested in kicking shit, and we had put up the circled A banner as something to get the left and right off our backs. It was then that we started getting people asking what we meant by that. I realised that outside of my own libertarian stance, I didn’t know what the fuck it was about. It was then I started looking at what it actually meant in terms of its history. I hadn’t had much interest in it and I can’t say I have now to be honest”.

In 1984, Andy Palmer of Crass told Radio Free France

“There were both left wing and right wing influences who were trying to co-opt what we were trying saying, which is largely why we adopted the anarchy symbol. Then we came up against the established anarchists, and their establishment idea of what anarchy meant, and as far as we could see, putting anarchy and peace together was a complete contradiction to the idea of what they had of what anarchy was, which was chaos and no government, general violent revolution, which was the opposite of what we were trying to say. So we put the peace banner together with anarchy banner”.

Crass’ symbolic appropriation of ‘anarchy’ was already present at the very beginning of punk as Jon Savage explained several years later.

“There was a lot of talk about anarchy in the summer of 1976. John Lydon was working on a set of lyrics to one of Glen’s tunes which became ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Vivienne set about making a parallel item of clothing. The resulting ‘Anarchy’ shirt was a masterpiece. Taking a second-hand sixties shirt, Westwood would dye it in stripes, black, red, or brown., before stencilling on a slogan such as ‘Only Anarchist Are Pretty’ . The next stage was to stitch on more slogans, hand painted on rectangles of silk or muslin. These made explicit references to Anarchist heroes and to the events of 1968: ’Prenez vos desirs pour la realite’, ‘A bas le Coca Cola’”.

“The final touches were the most controversial. Small rectangular portraits of Karl Marx (from Chinatown) were placed on the side of the chest, and on the other, above the pocket or on the collar, was placed an (often inverted) swastika from the Second World War. To ensure that the message was received, the whole shirt was finished off with an armband which simply read ‘Chaos’. The intention was the group should not be politically explicit, but instead should be an explosion of contradictory, highly charged signs”.

The Sex Pistols single ‘Anarchy in the UK’ was released in November 1976. The Crass and Poison Girls benefit single for what was to become the Wapping Autonomy Centre was released in May 1980 and raised £10,000. The money was used to convert a space in a Victorian warehouse beside the Thames at Wapping into a social centre. After discussion the more neutral ‘Autonomy Centre’ was chosen over ‘Anarchist Centre’ as its name. It opened in early 1981 but was a rented space without an entertainment licence or a drinks licence. The rent was £680 a quarter and by November 1981 the lack of committed support from the traditional anarchist community had created a financial crisis.

To bring in some cash, it was agreed to put on punk gigs on Sunday nights at the Autonomy Centre. Over the next three month these brought in £700 but as Albert Meltzer sadly observed

“With the punks’ money came the punks, and in the first week they had ripped up every single piece of furniture carefully bought, planned and fitted, down to the lavatory fittings that had been installed by Ronan Bennett from scratch, and defaced our own and everyone else’s wall for blocks around. In the excitement of the first gigs where they could do as they liked, they did as they liked and wrecked the place. Loss of club, loss of money, loss of effort. End of story”.  

The problem was that the majority of the punks who came to the Sunday night gigs were teenagers, some as young as thirteen. For many of the audience and groups, the Autonomy Centre gigs were a continuation of gigs that had been put on in a squatted, derelict ‘Grimaldi’ church on the Pentonville Road through 1980 and 1981. These stopped after one of the homeless alcoholics who also used the church accidentally set fire to it.

While the end of the Wapping Autonomy Centre in February 1982 marked the end of one connection between anarchists and punks, a different connection soon emerged.

The new connection was with a group of Spanish anarchists who had squatted an abandoned school on the Harrow Road called the Centro Iberico. The Spanish anarchists lived in the classrooms upstairs and allowed us to convert a former assembly room downstairs into a performance space. A stage was built using old cookers from the kitchens covered with carpet retrieved from skips. Although the Centro was evicted at the end of 1982, for a few month during the spring and summer it was used once a week for anarchist punk gigs. After that a series of ’Anarchy Centres’ were squatted in north London over the next few years, one of which evolved into Molly’s Café on Upper Street in Islington.

A spin-off from these activities was the setting up of the Black Sheep Housing Co-op in Islington in 1982, which by 1983 had been given four derelict houses to convert by Islington Council. After the failure of a building co-op to convert the houses, we had to do the conversion work ourselves. This venture provided an alternative to squatting for co-op members over the next ten years, although many of the original Black Sheep went on to become ‘new age travellers’. I moved into one of the Black Sheep houses in 1983 while I was still working for London Rubber. Mark Wilson of the Mob, a well-known anarcho-punk group lived in the same house and in 1984 Mark asked me to take over the Mob’s record company called All the Madmen which I ran for the next couple of years and which I am still involved in a small way, thirty years on.

Politically, the most interesting actions that took place in in 1983 and 1984 were the Stop the City actions. Unfortunately, my partner Pinki who was involved in the planning and organisation of these protests died in 1996, but while we lived together she did pass on various snippets of information which I will now try to piece together.  As soon as she was sixteen in 1978, Pinki left home to become a punk Squatter in London. Then in 1980 she returned home to Gloucestershire and became involved with Stroud CND. In late 1981, Stroud CND visited the newly established peace camp at Greenham Common. The others went home but Pinki stayed at Greenham on and off for the next three years. In 1982 she took part in a protest against the Falklands victory parade in London, which was organised by London Greenpeace.

In early 1983 Pinki was involved in the planning of the first Stop the City protest also organised by London Greenpeace where she was arrested and swiftly released since she was nine months pregnant. Her son Sky was born four days later. This became the first Stop The City which was held on 29th September 1983. Three more Stop The City actions followed in 1984.

The full story of the Stop the City actions has yet to be written, but last year Rich Cross wrote about them for Freedom in September 2013.

Called on 29th September 1983, to coincide with the quarterly calculation of the City’s profits, protestors were encouraged to take part in a ‘carnival against war’ and deliver ‘a day of reckoning’ for the warmongers and racketeers of the Square Mile. Around 1500 anarchists, libertarians, punks and radical peace activists descended on the City to occupy buildings, block roads, stage actions and swarm through the streets.

Cumulatively these efforts were designed to snarl up the operation of the capital’s financial hub. In an analogue era, long before the City’s ‘Big Bang’, when files and paperwork still had to be physically couriered between companies, the impact of mobs of unruly demonstrators filling the City’s narrow streets could be dramatic. Estimates differed, but the occupation of corporate space interrupted scores of monetary transactions, and drove down the day’s profits. The cost to those demonstrating was significant too: more than 200 arrests at the first Stop The City; nearly 400 at the March 1984 event; and close to 500 in September 1984.

Support for Stop The City came from two principal directions: from elements within the radical wing of the nuclear disarmament movement (which had been looking for ways to generalise and extend action beyond military bases) and from within the ranks of anarcho-punk (a sub-culture eager to test out its collective political muscle). But the audacity of Stop The City struck a chord with activists and militants from many other movements and campaigns.

Pinki was arrested on the first Stop the City but released since she was nine months pregnant. Her son Sky was born four days later.  She was arrested again at the second Stop the City and held overnight. A crèche had been arranged and fortunately Dave Morris took Sky home with him after it closed. Pinki was arrested again on the third Stop the City, but this time we were in a relationship so she arranged that I would look after Sky for the day. Over the next twelve years, apart from 1990 when I almost stood for election as an anti-Poll tax Green Party councillor in Hackney, Pinki was the activist of the family while I kept the home fire burning. Pinki’s last and twenty sixth arrest and was in June 1994 at a road protest in Bath.

Compared with the Stop the City actions, the Poll Tax riot on 31st March 1990 in Trafalgar Square was a mega-event. We weren’t there, but myself and Pinki had been present when an anti-Poll tax protest in Hackney turned into a minor riot a few weeks earlier. On a wet day in January 1990 the Livingston family set off from Hackney to Blackheath in south London. We were going to the launch of the English Anti-Poll Tax Campaign. Blackheath was chosen because of its link to the 1381 Poll Tax Uprising. The revolting Kentish peasants camped on Blackheath on 12th June 1381 before joining with the Essex peasants to occupy London the next day.

I don’t recall it being a very impressive event. There were a few banners, a few hundred political activists trying to sell each other their revolutionary tracts and perhaps some stalls. It did not seem much better organised than Stonehenge Campaign events we had attended a few years earlier.

We did pick up an anti-Poll Tax Green Party leaflet which inspired us to join the Party. I started going to meetings of the local Stoke Newington and Hackney North branch and put myself forward as candidate for the local elections due to be held later that year. Our ward was mainly made up of the huge Nightingale Estate plus our Estate and few surrounding streets. I went to Hackney library and checked the stats from the previous election- turnout on our ward was very low, less than 20%. I worked out that I only had to persuade a couple of hundred people who hadn’t bothered to vote before to vote for me as an anti-Poll tax candidate to win.

It seemed do-able, but just to make sure, I got in touch with the Hackney Tenants and Residents Association, based in the old Shoreditch Town Hall to see about setting up a local branch. The local community centre was on Brooke Road and was where our children went to playgroup. I went along one day to see about hiring a room in the community centre for a first meeting and to get some flyers printed.  In a slightly surreal co-incidence the new community worker there was Ian Bone. Ian was very enthusiastic about the tenants group, but quickly headed me off before I started discussing politics by saying ’Of course, I am an old Labour Party man, myself’. This puzzled me at first, but then I realised that the rather thin partition walls in the community centre meant that our conversations would be public rather than private…

As it turned out, the Green Party decided to lead their local election campaign on the dangers of irradiated food rather than the Poll Tax and at the two tenants meetings I organised the problem of how to get rid of some squatters from our estate and how to get Hackney Council to carry out a long list of essential repairs were the main subjects discussed. No-one at the time seemed very bothered about the Poll Tax.

Meanwhile, Hackney Council had set 8th March 1990 as the date when they would vote on what level to set the Poll Tax. As a Labour controlled council, it was unlikely (impossible) that they would refuse to impose the tax. Even if they did, I found that central government would then appoint an Auditor to set a Poll Tax rate for Hackney anyway. As the date grew closer, and as people in England started to catch up with Scotland, where the tax had been brought in the year before, things got more interesting.

I went to an anti-poll tax meeting on Southwold Estate, but although it had been organised by one of the tenants – a young woman- she was flanked by four non-local Militant members. This annoyed me, since it looked as if they were trying to take over our Hackney campaign. I asked if Militant were working with the Socialist Workers Party who blitzing Hackney with posters stating ‘HACKNEY POLL TAX £475’. This caused consternation and the muffled reply “No we aren’t” but fortunately for the Militants, one of the Southwold tenants then accused me of trying to split the campaign by asking the question…

Then came the day…  On 8th March the council met to set the poll tax rate for Hackney in a boarded up town hall surrounded by a wall of police confronting an increasingly agitated 1000 strong crowd. Three days earlier, Harringey had set their rate and there had been a minor riot. Now everyone was expecting a riot in Hackney. The whole scene was unreal. It didn’t look or feel like every day Hackney at all. I half expected helicopters to come in and rescue the councillors like what happened when Saigon finally fell to the Vietcong in 1974.

I had, rather naively, planned to give an election speech to the crowd so was wearing my wedding suit. There was a BBC London film crew there and I was chatting to them when they suddenly got busy, anticipating trouble. So I moved on to the steps in front of the town hall to get my speech in before the trouble started. I managed to say “If you want to get rid of the Poll Tax, don’t get mad get even and vote Green” before the police suddenly moved forward from behind me to push the crowd away from the town hall. The only response I had from my election speech was a young punk woman in the crowd shouting back at me “It is too late for that now”.

I then went home then but my wife stayed on to report later that a riot had broken out. McDonalds burger bar was smashed up and Paddy Ashdown, who had been giving a speech in the Assembly Rooms behind the town hall, had his car attacked by the crowd and thirty eight people were arrested. One of our punk friends told us later that he had got close enough to Paddy Ashdown to give him a punch…

Compared with the major Poll tax riot which took place in and around Trafalgar Square on the 31st March when there were three hundred and fifty arrests, what happened in Hackney was a minor affair. However, not wanting to be arrested for giving my speech in Hackney, beforehand I had contacted the local police, the council, several UK and foreign journalists and even Paddy Ashdown’s office. All the people I spoke to realised that there was going to be trouble, but seemed helpless before the rapid movement of events. That the massive 31st March Poll Tax rally would lead to a major riot now seemed a certainty. An unexpected outcome of the Trafalgar Square riot was the enforced resignation of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990.

My enduring memory is of the few moments that I was stood between the police and the protestors, trying to give my political speech. The sheer intensity of the anger of the crowd was like a physical force, their rage, built up over eleven years of Thatcher governments waging class war was like a blazing furnace. It was not what I had expected at all. Like the young punk woman said “it was too late” for my ‘vote Green’ pitch. Way too late. The only coherent thought I can recall from the experience was ‘Fucking hell, there is going to be a revolution’.

Reflecting on the dramatic events of 1990, it is possible to see in the very different reactions to the Poll Tax north and south of the border the first signs that Scotland and the rest of the UK were beginning to move apart politically. In Scotland the economic hammer blows of Thatcherism re-forged a powerful sense of Scotland as a civil society. Across most of England, the same hammer blows fractured the post-war consensus and fragmented civil society. In Scotland, the Poll Tax gave rise to a popular movement of collective resistance which also focused Scottish civil society on the need for constitutional change. This led to the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999. In England the Poll Tax led to riots.

A key theme of the Scottish Enlightenment was the idea of a ‘civil society’ existing between individuals and families and the state. If there had still been a Scottish state with Edinburgh as its political centre, this idea might not have arisen. Scottish intellectuals would, as members of a privileged elite, have been part of this Scottish state. But with the new Union state of Great Britain centred on London, the dispossessed Scottish professors, lawyers and ministers had to re-invent themselves as members of their own stateless civil society.

Since they viewed the new Union state as a continuation of the English state English intellectuals did not face this problem so had little interest in ‘Scotch philosophy’. The Scottish Enlightenment was more favourably received in France and Germany. Immanuel Kant claimed that David Hume ‘roused me from my dogmatic slumber’. Georg Hegel was another German philosopher who was influenced by Scottish Enlightenment thought. Hegel, however, developed his political ‘Philosophy of Right’, published in 1821, after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. In Hegel’s version, civil society emerged out the disintegration of the family as the focus of ethical life and in turn a rational state will emerge out of civil society as the ‘actuality of the ethical idea’.

What Hegel hoped was that Prussia would be able to modernise and become a rational state without having to undergo a bloody revolution. But by the time he wrote an essay on the English (that is British) Reform Bill just before his death in 1831, Hegel was less optimistic. He feared that the forces unleashed by industrial capitalism would lead to revolution rather than reform in Britain.

Hegel’s fear reminds me of a question Tony Drayton asked one of the veteran Spanish anarchists at the Centro Iberico in 1982. Tony asked him “How did you manage to have an anarchist revolution in 1936?”. The reply was “Everyone was an anarchist”. Hegel also once said that what is rational becomes real and what is real becomes rational. It is forty years since I became a ‘self-confessed anarchist’. Over those years I have had plenty of time to change my mind. But I still believe that of all the varieties of political theories and practices, anarchism is the most rational and hence most real and so I look forward to the day when everyone is an anarchist.

Al Puppy – March 2014

Read more on the Wapping Autonomy Centre and hear downloads from bands on this KYPP post HERE

See the full set of photographs from the Wapping Autonomy Centre HERE

See the full set of photographs from the Centro Ibrico HERE