Brigandage – F.Y.M. – Fuck Off cassette – 1984

Hope / Seconds / Ripped And Torn / Iceburg / Art Of Stealing / Tears Of Glass / Fragile

Motherfucker / London Bridge / Being With You / Search And Destroy / Let It Rot / Wasteland / Ripped And Torn

A handful of bands seem to have been connected with Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine by forces so strong that one finds it hard to imagine one without the other. Adam And The Antz, The Mob, Blood And Roses, Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult and Brigandage are examples that I can think of. Quite obviously these bands would have existed without the fanzine, but a bond, I feel, did exist. The UK Subs, Crass or The Ruts, fine bands as they were, could not, I feel, get such a strong bond with the fanzine.

I suppose it probably helped that most of the ‘KYPP type’ bands above also had a history of sharing squatted houses, drugs, gig experiences in similar venues, hairspray, magick and (maybe) even boy/girl friends with the Puppy Collective of the day.

Brigandage were one of the fine bands that I first heard on the John Peel show. The session the band recorded was seriously taking the piss. It was so good that nothing I thought at the time could ever touch it. It must be said at this stage that this session was recorded by the original line up that originated in 1982 and was featured in an early 1983 volume of  ‘Punk Lives’ magazine. That interview is up in the photo gallery if you care to see it under ‘Punk Lives’ sub album along with a heap of other relevant stuff from that magazine…

I saw the band live and they were great, but then they split up..!

The band were quickly resurrected in 1984 with the help of Richard North (who wrote and edited the excellent Kick fanzine and also did reviews, essays and interviews for the N.M.E) and two other members, joining Michelle from the original line up, the band that recorded the tracks on this tape.

Step back to 1983; Richard North was already a fan and friend of the band and it turned out a good time to have a journo friend on the ‘inside’ as a scoop was written up on the newly named ‘Positive Punk’ movement which commanded a front page and center spread in the N.M.E. during that year. Also featured heavily in this article were Blood And Roses, and several other bands were name checked during the piece, Southern Death Cult, The Mob and so on. Shortly after The Face magazine got involved in the rush to feature the movement in nice glossy pages, and even Michael Moorcock set up his TV cameras and got busy…

What happened?

Nothing…most the band’s at the forefront of this little scene split up by the end of 1983 including of course, as previously mentioned, Brigandage themselves. There were not a lot of bands to replace the disbanded groups like The Mob, Southern Death Cult and Blood And Roses, that were of the same quality to carry this small scene on effectively, but the ‘Positive Punk’ movement left in it’s wake some great live experiences, some great records and tapes, and some obscure literature in a few magazines including of course Kill Your Pet Puppy.

Nowadays of course this stuff is gold dust with interest from all over the world, not just for a bunch of punkers in London, Bradford and Leeds during the period from the middle of 1982 to late 1983.

Brigandage were really great, this tape is a mixture of live and demo material recorded and released in 1984 that rocks on with just enough 1976 punk spirit to overtake the opposition by several yards.

My Brigandage John Peel session cassette (with loads of other stuff on it as well because it was a C90) was either nicked or lost, probably nicked though, cos I do not lose a lot of tapes or records, as some of the posts on this site would testify!

If anyone can sort me out on this session I would be chuffed.

Rot ‘n’ Roll punkers…

  1. DavidM
    March 29, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Holy hell, it’s just so great to hear these tracks, several of which I’d not heard before, and with Pistols-like riffs galore. Congrats are most definitely in order for putting this up. Interview with Michelle makes for a great read too.

  2. Martin C
    Martin C
    May 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    At some time in your life you may go through an experience which can, at best be called character-building, and at worst can be said to leave you with deep psychological scars. Nothing can ever prepare you for such an experience; you have to either be positive about it or give in to the demons it unleashes. Such an experience happened to me shortly after my seventeenth birthday, a week or so after I left home.

    Before moving into my new house I’d yet to meet any of the people I’d soon be sharing with. My friend, Andy, had given me names and brief descriptions, and I kind of trusted him when he said they were an OK bunch. He’d also shown me the outside of the house and, yes, it looked a bit run down, but all I really cared about was leaving home. I was young, naive and up for anything. I’d have moved anywhere – although, with hindsight I’d have moved anywhere except there. But, by then it was too late. Andy had taken it on board to move me out of my parental home; he’d hassled through my membership of a gay housing co-op in Stoke Newington; rushed through my room allocation and somehow persuaded the occupants of an old hippy coach to help move me the fifteen miles from my home in the suburbs to the house in Yoakley Road.

    I can’t remember much about the day I moved out, except the net curtains twitching as the tatty bus trundled along the normally respectable street, my mum making tea in teacups and saucers for seven or so impossibly scruffy punks and hippies, and waving as I boarded the coach after having been too embarrassed to kiss my mum or sister goodbye.

    It didn’t bode well when we got to the house in Stoke Newington and found nobody there. My stuff was dropped off on the pavement, and I waited on the street for half an hour with two old suitcases, a single mattress and a guitar, while Andy tracked down the keys.

    Eventually, the door was opened and 32a Yoakley Road was revealed to me in all it’s horror. The first thing I noticed was the smell. The second thing I noticed were the bare floorboards in the hall with brown stains that looked like shit trodden into the grain. I found out shortly afterwards that it was dogshit, and that one of the residents, Richard, was commonly known as ‘Dogshit Dick’. He had two dogs: one was called Howard, after Howard Devoto, whose haircut Richard imitated with such peremptory care, and the other dog was named after a lesbian poet whose name I forget now. Anyway, both these dogs had the runniest bums in the world. I think they were on a diet of sardines in oil. The buggers shat inside and everywhere. The house stank of it. But Richard was so laid back, or so preoccupied with being Howard Devoto, that he found neither the time nor inclination to take responsibility for the doings of his two dogs. They were covered in shit too, yet even that didn’t persuade him of the necessity to remedy the situation.

    So, with Andy’s help, being extra careful not to let anything drag on the floor, I carried my things through to a small upstairs room.

    As I got to the top of the stairs I noticed another smell, much worse. Maybe it was an instinct for self-preservation that urged me to ignore it. Either way, I continued along the hall and put my stuff in a small room in which were heaped piles of clothes that’d been left by the previous tenant who’d recently gone back to his mum’s in an effort to get off heroin. The bare linoleum floor was smeared with dogshit too, and fleas hopped about as if it was suddenly springtime.

    Without knowing how much worse things could possibly get, I asked Andy, “Where’s the toilet?” suddenly hating this helpful friend who’d done so much to aid my move.

    “Er. . . let’s go to the park.”

    I wanted to get out of the house anyway, so we walked up to Clissold Park and I used the public toilets there. It was a warm summer’s day, and being in the park and free from my parents and my old life made everything seem alright with the world.

    The next day I asked Bob, who lived in the room next to Dogshit Dick’s, where the toilet was.

    “Don’t use the toilet,” he said, an ominous dark shadow crossing his previously jovial face.

    “Is it upstairs?” I asked, persisting.

    “Just don’t open that door,” he warned.

    I didn’t. Not yet.

    A few days after that, it was getting dark and being tired of the ten minute walk to the public toilets in Clissold Park, and being young and still naively curious, I foolishly went in search of the toilet.

    Walking through those twilight hallways on bare dogshit floorboards, with fleas leaping around my ankles, snacking on my blood like I was the last fast food place open in the world, I found it. I followed my nose.

    The door is thin, light green, cracked paintwork, plywood. It is jammed shut. I turn the greasy handle, and pull. The door gives a little. I pull harder. The door opens.

    There before me, in the half-light, is the full toilet of Yoakley Road. It is a sight I’ll never forget, and a sight I can never do justice to in words. People sometimes ask about extreme experiences, like “What was your first childhood memory?” or “When was the worst time in your life?” Whenever I’m asked “What thing has made you puke besides alcohol?” I answer in monotone, like a zombie: “The full toilet at Yoakley Road.” How can I give you even the merest of pictures without showing you the thing itself? Go see a Damien Hirst exhibit and you’ll not be even half as revolted.

    Basically, there’s the toilet bowl itself, which has yellow, brown slime oozing down the once-white enamel. A swarm of fat flies, whose feet are visibly made large by the deposits of brown slime on them, are buzzing around eagerly as if they’d all just died and gone to fly heaven. And there, in the toilet itself, is a mountain of crusted turd protruding about two feet above the rim. The mountain of turd has solidified by now. There are no individual turds which any one person could claim responsibility for, just one solid, reeking mass of excrement. The mass of brown slime moves, and I realise that maggots have made a home for themselves in that mound of horror. They are hell’s maggots. As if overcome with an involuntary physical need to add something to the abhorrent canvas, I retch translucent, foamy green bile that tastes like acid and forms a small sticky pool at the base of Satan’s toilet.

    After that experience I spent a week or so sleeping at Andy’s place, which was clean enough but had it’s disadvantages: namely, the squadron of militant lesbians who occupied the first three floors, and the hazardous stairway to Andy’s room down which an old Underwood typewriter would crash every time Andy had one of his notorious ‘writing tempers’.

    The nightmare wasn’t over, though. One day the tenants of 32a Yoakley Road actually managed to wrangle some money from the housing co-op to sort out the plumbing problems: new pipes, running water, etc.

    It was never easy getting money from the co-op. I think the members always suspected the residents of Yoakley Road of not being gay. Bob shared a room with Angi for a start, and Mark, a guy who’d lived there until a few months before I moved in, had gotten punched in the face when he’d tried to chat up one of the lesbians at a co-op meeting. I think it was only Dogshit Dick’s obsession with Howard Devoto and the elusive Colin’s penchant for brightly-coloured jumble sale dresses that served to keep us in favour with the leaders of the co-op.

    Anyway, we got some money allocated, Bob went shopping for pipes and solder, and we began to plumb. All was going well. We’d almost finished and I was glowing from the sense of achievement which D.I.Y. plumbing brings, when Bob suddenly disappeared. Minutes later, he returned wearing a heavy-duty face mask and thick rubber gloves. In his hands, he held a shovel and a roll of industrial strength dustbin bags.

    Bob saw the colour drain from my face and my jaw drop. He didn’t need to tell me what his next plan of action was going to be.

    “So you’ve seen it,” he said, a hint of glee betraying his evil nature.

    “N-n-nooo!” I said, almost passing out as the memory pushed it’s way vividly to my mind’s eye.

    Working quickly to reassure me, so we could do what really had to be done, Bob said, “You just stand outside and hold the bags open. I’ll do the shovelling.”

    Bob waited, anxious to see if my blood would begin to circulate again. It did. I went to get a peg for my nose and a pair of dark glasses.

    Like fools, or soldiers who’d made a conscious decision to go marching into the face of death, we climbed those stairs and stood gallantly at the portals of doom. A short pause, with Bob’s hand on the doorknob, and then: “Ready?”

    “Yep!” I said in an unfamiliarly macho voice.

    Bob went in there, flies came out. The work commenced. Had I been fully prepared for what was to follow I would have added earplugs to the peg and the glasses that protected at least two my senses from the horrors they would otherwise be exposed to. I could see little in the gloom. I could smell only the hint of something which was the worst smell on earth. But I could fully hear the slopping wet mulchy scoop of Bob’s shovel into the mound. And I could clearly hear Bob’s continuous violent retching. I could also feel the movement of the bin bag as it became heavy with the hideous slime. My body itched all over. I wanted just to run from there. But I stayed. I stayed until three bags were full and Bob’s shovel was only just starting to scrape against the enamel. I stayed until the narrowing of the toilet bowl prevented Bob’s shovel dipping any further into the obscene slough. Apart from the ten minute break in which Bob had to catch his breath because of the constant retching, we saw the job through (or in my case, heard the job through). We survived.

    Although the experience has done me some damage – in the persistent flashbacks that bring on a feeling of nausea and utter revulsion, and the fact that my nose has become so prematurely wrinkled – I have attempted to defy the odds and look on the positive side of it all. I will say, honestly, that I have gained a confidence which comes from having survived an experience which can never be surpassed in its grossness. And although Bob suffered terribly after the event (and I can’t be certain whether the nervous breakdown or the addiction to valium can be fully attributed to the experience), I can honestly say that, after having lived through Yoakley Road’s full toilet, nothing phases me at all.

    *I would however like to qualify this by mentioning to readers that my experience in lavatorial crises under no circumstance equips me to deal with problem-solving of a similar nature.

  3. Mark
    August 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Excellent piece of writing that Martin, I am just glad I have never had to experience that horror.

    I don’t know… it started off well enough about Brigandage and the positive punk scene and ended up somewhere in the bowels of Hell !

  4. Carl
    August 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Well that put me off my sarnie !!!

  5. Brigandage | expletive undeleted
    May 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

    […] are actually releasing a live tape from various gigs [entitled Fuck Your Mother .. And don’t run away you punk]. It has 16 tracks (50 minutes), a 16-page fanzine and a badge. We hope to sell it for £2.75 […]

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