Tying up the loose ends of a life in hardcore from 1986 until yesterday lunchtime

'Punkier-than-thou' - The Wire, June 2013.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Bl'ast on Discharge's grave in the new world

If you haven't already read this appraisal of Discharge's fall from grace in 1986, do so. It's a pretty entertaining and well-researched read (if a little short on actual new information), but the real gem is Nate Wilson's recording of the show, which definitely deserves to join the (admittedly quite small) pantheon of 'great gig riots caught on tape'.

By sheer coincidence, during an interview with Clifford Dinsmore of Bl'ast, we took a detour from talking about his old band's pretty fucking amazing bit of archive raiding for Southern Lord (the interview can be found on The Quietus btw) to discuss Discharge, their ill-fated US tour in 1986, and Bl'ast being witnesses to one of the more notorious episodes in punk rock history.

Friday, 2 August 2013

How The Process destroyed hardcore in Oakland FOREVER!

The calm before the storm
So I had the pleasure of hosting Alicia and B. from Replica (Great band. Check them out.) earlier this week, and Alicia passed on to me a thoroughly entertaining piece of information. We had played together in Oakland, Ca, in October last year, with Iron Lung and Gehenna, and the show was absolutely nuts - 300-plus crammed into a room that should really only accommodate half that. The cops eventually came and closed it down during Iron Lung's set, there was barely enough to room to breathe when Gehenna played, and, when we were on stage, things had already got so nuts that some kid - who was getting in people's faces, punching them and, laughably, attempting to attack Gav - had a bottle smashed over his head for his troubles.

Take as evidence this video from our set. It's all vacant stares and the occasional nodding head, but even by the end of this small section, we'd started to win over the crowd (and even the guy filming it, judging by his comment - cheers!). If you extrapolate that over another 15 minutes then the chaos you're picturing might just match what was going on in front of me when I was playing. (Seriously, I did wonder if I was going to have to jump off the stage and sort out the wee dick that kept trying to punch Gav; of course, the Guvnor doesn't need my help, and defused the situation (a bit) by bending over and laughing in his face. Then, naturally, someone smashed a bottle over the guy's head.)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Degraded in Chelsea: my DJing stint at the American Hardcore 1978-90 exhibition

'Yes, but how much can you take'... DJing at the American Hardcore show
“Welcome to the final nail in hardcore’s coffin,” was how I greeted my friends who stopped by to say hello. Sweaty and harassed, hauling a box of old HC 12s and 7s from South Kensington tube to a posh side street, I’d barely had a chance to register my surroundings before being led up to the glass-fronted DJ parapet overlooking the gallery, other than that the place seemed pretty bloody swank. But the looks of bemusement from those that trudged up the stairs to ask me what the fuck I, of all people, was doing here consolidated the uneasy feeling I’d had since I walked in – this had the makings of a weird fucking scene, and a significant distance from the "Hey, let’s get pissed and play some raging old hardcore records" party I’d deluded myself into thinking I’d signed up for.

The first half-hour was fine, because the place was basically empty, and I got the chance lazily switch between Rodney On The ROQ and Let Them Eat Jellybeans comp tracks and then amuse myself by playing songs that, to me at least, commented on the stupidity of trying to reframe hardcore as an antiquated gallery exhibit in the posh part of town: Flipper’s Ha Ha Ha – “Isn´t life a blast/It´s just like living in the past” – or Urban Waste’s Reject – “Cos they’re really the rejects/for liking music from the past.” The gallery staff were awfully nice – and made sure my beverage requirements were attended to with haste. But as the place filled up, I could tell something was wrong - so terribly, terribly wrong. For every familiar (albeit confused-looking) face, two dozen moneyed Made In Chelsea extras swanned in and swooned as Toby Mott, the artist behind this exhibition, greeted them at the door. These were clearly his target demographic – Prada-clad west London fuckwits so far removed from punk’s milieu that the irony of a high-class gallery show dedicated to Crass’s seditious rage (one of Mott’s previous projects) wouldn’t occur to them in a million years. The angrier I got, the more obnoxious my music choices became – Reagan Youth (‘Sieg Heil!’), Angry Samoans with the Hitler speech intro, Vile’s 5 to 10 (‘Rape little girls? Not me!’), and to round off my section of the evening, SS Decontrol’s endurance test How Much Art? I wasn’t expecting a riot (although, in my wildest dreams, I would have loved one), but I was kinda sorta hoping that someone might accost me about the off-colour nature of my selections. But nothing. It was every punk’s nightmare: impotent rage being met with indifference, or worse, smug indulgence.