Toxic Graffity, Throbbing Gristle, Alternative TV


Alternative TV, Throbbing Gristle, Toxic Graffity(Sue Catwoman and Psychic TV)

In the spring of 1980 Mike Dibbol of Toxic Graffity fanzine journeyed from Tunbridge Wells to London Fields in search of Throbbing Gristle. After drawing a blank at their Martello Street ‘Death Factory’ studio, he met up with the group on Beck Road. Sadly for future historians, Throbbing Gristle were unable to take up Mike’s offer of an interview, so TG did not appear in TG… (Also much to my disappointment. For reasons which now eludes me, I was Mike’s side-kick on that unfateful day). So it goes.

But as an intriguing substitute, here, by the magic of the Internet, is the first part of a lengthy interview with Genesis P.Orridge in which we discover he was -if only briefly- archetypal punk Sue Catwoman’s boyfriend…and much more. Gen also reveals that he was not banned from the Roxy – but was he there when Crass played?

An anonymous comment to Throbbing Gristle piece I wrote on Greengalloway 30 Oct 2005 says T.Gristle met Crass… but When? And Where? [pasted in below the following Wire bit].

And finally, if we ask him nicely, perhaps Tony could reveal what he knows about the ‘Nobodies’? I think we should be told, as Private Eye say.

PS Have added Alex Fergusson site to links section.

Unedited Transcript of his Invisible Jukebox tested by Alan Licht in September 2006 MARK PERRY “Death Looks Down” from Snappy Turns (Deptford Fun City)

GPO: (laughs) I haven’t heard Mark Perry’s voice for a long time.

A: This is from his first solo album. How did you get acquainted with him and Alex Fergusson?

G: I’m pretty sure what happened was I met Sandy Robertson, he was working at Sounds writing things, and he also had a fanzine called Piss Factory about Patti Smith. They [he and Alex] both moved to London from Glasgow at the same time, and were living in the same squat. So I met Mark P through Sandy Robertson and Alex Fergusson. Mark at that time was going out with the original Sue Catwoman, who’s on the front of the No Future newspaper. I got to know Mark P quite well and I even wrote a page for an issue of Sniffing Glue and got involved in that. And then Sue Catwoman got really ill with appendicitis. I went to see Sue Catwoman in hospital and I gave her a great, big, giant latex pool of vomit with “Get Well Soon” written on it. And she was quite taken with that and actually ended up being my girlfriend after that. So I ended up, through her and Mark P, going around all the early punk gigs, the Roxy and various places, and seeing The Jam when they first played and Eater, all those early punk bands. And then Mark P decided that he would like to have his own band. Alex Fergusson and Sandy Robertson had originally had a band which they called the Nobodies in Glasgow, and the Nobodies played only one song which was “European Son” and they would play that for as long as they could, about an hour, and that was the entire set.

Throbbing Gristle was already in existence, and we had our rehearsal space at the Death Factory, so I invited Mark P and Alex to come down there and rehearse and jam and come up with ideas for how the band would be. I had a drum kit, and actually began-strangely enough, not many people realize I began as a drummer, my father was a drummer in big bands. So I was the drummer, for a while, until Alternative TV were invited to play at the first punk rock festival in Birmingham, and I said I can’t be in two bands at the same time. When I started my own band after Throbbing Gristle, Alternative TV were in a hiatus at that point, so I took Alex Fergusson and formed Psychic TV.

A: How long was Alex involved in Psychic TV?

G: Alex was the original co-founder of Psychic TV, before anyone else it was just me and Alex, and that would have been 1981, and he stayed in Psychic TV right up until after Godstar, 1986

Dear Alistair,Very much enjoying your ruminations. Yes, Crass were aware of TG–they met at on at least occasion. Mutual respect as far as I know. The Crass-avant -guard/electronic/industrial link went primarily through Annie Anxiety and led to such things as Whitehouse supporting Flux of Pink Indians at the Greyhound in November 1982, Steve Ignorant singing with Current 93 etc. etc.You’re doing fantastic work in writing about this–keep it up!

  1. gerard
    January 26, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    IIRC, Penny mentioned Dial House receiving postcard art from Genesis when all that was in vogue – did that preceed TG? I’m not a fan so I wouldn’t know…

    EDIT: reading later on in the interview Gen states:

    “here was a German artist named Albrecht D, who was sort of a minor Fluxus artist, somebody I met through mail art, and was also an associate of Joseph Beuys” – that might be the clue. Penny & Gee were into Fluxus and Joseph Beuys was definitely a name that turned up in my Crass book research somewhere

  2. Penguin
    January 27, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Funny one this, I asked Gen about Crass once in Beck Road, cos I was a supporter of most things Crass, he stated he did not trust them because they were scientoligists. I thought that odd coming from a guy that recieved sigils in the post (spunk in an envelope) for the TEMPLE OF PSYCHIC YOUTH! A little while down the line I was asking John Loder about this and he told me it was not Crass who were to blame, but Sue (Loder not Catwoman) and himself! So there you go, even the great and the good can be mistaken…
    Shall I upload EVERTHING that Mark Perry has ever released from 1977 – 1986? Am working on it!

  3. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    January 27, 2008 at 2:52 am

    AL Puppy. Like the ruminatons of Kirk Brandon on his myspace blog, Genesis is also mistaken.

    Where to fucking start really.

    Sandy and Alex had posters up in the independent record shops around Glasgow at the time I started distributing the first issue of Ripped And Torn. We were working on the same wavelength.

    So for the second issue of Ripped And Torn me and Skid Kid went down to somewhere (Paisley?) to interview Alex and Sandy. It was on a mainline train from Glasgow.

    We were taken to Alex’s flat.

    Total amazement that it had no furniture, or anything Skid or I could recognise.

    There were big, concert sized speakers to the end of the room and a turntable near the door.

    Sandy took a position in the corner as Alex kept playing stuff at me and Skid Kid – instructing us into how punk how come to be and how the sound should be. He was heavily influenced by Kim Fowley, and despite my agreement that the Runaways gig we’d all seen a few weeks before was fantastic, he kept at the Fowley connection.

    There was a touch of LA conspiracy in his talk.

    At points he plugged in a guitar and either played along or played songs to us.

    Little did Alex or Sandy know I was still shell-shocked by the lack of furniture in the room. The fact that once older one could choose how one lived and there was no fixed position.


    Alex and Sandy had fled to London and were renting a bedsitroom in Willesden trying to find the big time.

    The ‘Nobodies’ featutre in R&T2 was cutting no ice with their lack of equipment as they touted their wares round the circuit. No gigs. Loads of talent, no marketing.

    Then Tony D and Skid Kid arrived in London, got invited to live in the unoffical Rough Trade workers squat on Bramley Road W11 – within one week Sandy and Alex had moved in with them.

    Sandy started producing White Stuff from this building. Very Crowley based ‘zine.

    Genesis started coming round W11 at around late summer of ’77.

    This must be the squat he talks of, and confuses me with Mark P (who hates squats).

    Wherever I’ve lived, Gen seems to pop up for a cup of tea.

    There’s a long, long story cut short.

    As for the Nobodies: at the time of ther interview for R&T2 Alex told it as it was. Which was in Glasgow and extreme musical action was needed.

    They never played live – Alex lied to Gen about this hour long rendition…but most of the movers in Glasgow at the time also lied their bollox off. Including me – they were hard times.

    Fucking hell they produced 4 immediate heroes – Alex, Sandy, Skid de Sade and myself and the Postcard crowd financed by Alex’s relative (who also wrote for R&T 3) who called his band ‘Orange Juice’.

  4. Steve
    January 27, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Fascinating stuff. You ought to conduct all-encompassing retrospective interviews with these characters to capture this in more detail and get their perspectives on those times now. (Of course that’s easy for me to say!)

    Which member of OJ wrote for Ripped and Torn?! I only ever got the London-based issues.

    And whatever happened to Sandy Robertson? I remember hearing rumours a few years ago that he had a few ‘problems – hope that’s not true. I haven’t seen his byline anywhere for years – what a waste. Although I do recall seeing letters from him published in various places (Mojo? The Standard? I forget now).

  5. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    January 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Edwin Collins wrote for Ripped & Torn.

  6. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    January 28, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    For the British singer Edwyn Collins – leader of Orange Juice, the early1980s Glasgow indie band – the first airing of the “Little Johnny Jewel” single on John Peel’s radio show was like “preaching to the converted”. “There was a fanzine around at that time called Ripped and Torn,” he says. “If you look in issue 3, there’s a mention of a `New York band’ forming in Bearsden. They were the Nu-Sonics. A few weeks later we started playing live. We became Orange Juice.” From link given by Steve above

  7. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    January 29, 2008 at 1:28 am

    Edwyn wrote a piece about record shops in Glasgow. I’ll dig it out and stick it up if you want.

    I think he was 12 at the time. But weren’t we all!

  8. Steve
    January 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I’d certainly love to see it – and any other blasts from Ripped and Torn you fancy sharing!

  9. Jim V
    Jim V
    October 21, 2008 at 12:34 am

    try for info on paisley and paisley punks….

  10. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    October 21, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Interesting history

  11. 120 Loop
    120 Loop
    March 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Hey-great site I came here cos I heard that it isn’t sue catwoman in “after cease to exist” (which I’ve never seen) so I’ve been doing some web research and it goes back to a sandy Robertson “sounds” article saying it’s her, but I heard it wasn’t her! I also saw that Sleazy said it was her-like I said I’m curious. In 2011 a beautiful ltd edition of Crowley articles “the unmagickal record of the beast” has an intro by Sandy Robertson, that’s the most recent I’ve seen. I haven’t been here in awhile, I think I mailed you something last year? anyway, anyone know?

  12. Rooksby
    May 22, 2020 at 4:47 am

    The “first punk rock festival” that Gen mentions actually took place in Nottingham, not Birmingham, and was ATV’s first live appearance.

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