Tag Archives: punk

FOR THE LIVERPOOL ECHO Meet The Thespians Liverpool’s…

FOR THE LIVERPOOL ECHO

Meet The Thespians, Liverpool’s budding punk quartet, and my newest musical obsession.

With Paul Thespian as the helm and frontman, the band boasts three other members, with the lovely Jess Branney on guitar, Danny Hall on drums and Phill Gornall on bass.

I caught up with them for a video interview after they’d played an acoustic set for BBC Radio, to talk about what it’s like to be an indie Liverpool band.

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FOR BIDO LITO MAGAZINE THE THESPIANS The Velcro…

FOR BIDO LITO MAGAZINE

THE THESPIANS

The Velcro Teddybears

EP Release Party @ Leaf

Unexpectedly for the passerby, Leaf Tea Shop is a gorgeous place for a deafeningly loud punk show. Hosting THE THESPIANS’ debut EP release party, TWENTYTHREE/FOUR/ELEVEN, the place was buzzing with the addictive afterglow of vicious rock and roll that left everyone’s ears ringing on Bold Street.

Openers THE VELCRO TEDDYBEARS delivered a soulful set, rich with the bucolic feel of their rural hometown, Penistone. The duo, Chaddy (Vocals, Guitar) and Griff (Guitar), met in grammar school during a time when the music of the Spice Girls and Take That were dominating the charts, and their music is a spirited, jaunty kind of rebellion rife with schoolboy charm. Singing tales of corrupting posh young girls, the acoustic plucking lulled the listeners into a full fledged experience of the eclectic countryside and the mischeif that sometimes happens there. One particularly bluesy song, Mad Man by the River, had vocalist Chaddy crooning about the local drunk who provided endless entertainment for the village children. Despite his slender frame and boyish good looks, Chaddy’s powerful vocals sounded like something that could have been belted out by a 20 stone trucker.

Headliners The Thespians are a different breed altogether. The Liverpool punk quartet shredded it with their special blend of revolutionary fervour and intellectual spirit of rebellion that somehow gives off an air of composure and nonchalance all at once. Self-described as “young ruffians making music,” the band channels the intensity of vintage UK punk, but with a brazen social consciousness and sensitivity far beyond their years.

Frontman and rhythm guitarist Paul Thespian’s voice, despite the oft-abrasive lyrical content, remains velvety and rich, bringing to mind the lusciousness of Julian Casablancas. With contemplative lyrics like “am I too young to fight/ too young to die/ too young to fall in love,” The Thespians are deeply self-reflective and sensitive of their social context. While it’s almost expected for a brooding punk group to express apathy and the feeling that life’s just “so so,” The Thespians escape the cliché by remaining instrospective and socially aware.

Guitarist Jess Branney, who also provides melodic vocals, brings a sexy feminine touch to this otherwise testosterone-heavy outfit, with Danny Hall drumming furiously like a machine and bassist Phil Gornall not being afraid of getting a bit crazy. Alltogether, they are a great-looking band and have a natural synergy onstage despite the fact that they’ve only been together for a year.

Coupled with huge talent and a tendency for chaos, The Thespians are sure to garner even more attention with their honest, emotionally charged music that defines this time in Liverpool music.

REVIEW: THE ENGLAND’S DREAMING TAPES – JON SAVAGE

FOR DISCORDER MAGAZINE

Jon Savage’s The England’s Dreaming Tapes is the quintessential literary companion to any punk devotee or music zealot prepared to venture into the filth and fury of this genre’s seminal history. The book contains hundreds of hours of interviews that Savage conducted when researching his 1991 book England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond—which has been heralded worldwide as the definite history of the UK punk revolution.

This collection of manuscripts includes interviews with all four original members of the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer of the Clash, Captain Sensible of the Damned, Adam Ant, Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks and Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees to name a few.

In his introduction, Savage points out that the interviews were taped in the late ’80s, a time when punk was only a decade old, and so “untainted by layers of myth and historiography.” At times the manuscript really drives this home, especially in Glen Matlock’s interview. The Sex Pistols’ bassist recalls first hearing the fast sound of the Ramones, but insists they never tried to follow suit. “That was the difference between us and the other punk bands,” he said. “‘Anarchy’ is strident, but because we weren’t rushing through it, it gives it more power.” Full of pithy, honest one-liners and moments of sober sincerity, the book is riddled with personal confessions and reflections of a time that was incendiary to say the least.

John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, was quite arguably the voice of his generation. The thin, sinewy, yet strangely baby-faced lyricist and frontman of the Sex Pistols publicly denounced authority, insulted the Queen and sang about cunnilingus to a population bent on killing off the conservative sensibilities that had its stronghold on modern society for too long. Growing increasingly controversial in his old age, Rotten is something of a caricature of his former self, but in his interview he’s somewhat immortalized in the way we’d all like to remember him.

Savage notes in the interview’s preface that it took nearly a year of negotiations with Rotten’s agent before a meeting time was established. Sure to find his interview subject stubborn and tight-lipped, Savage’s cool, relatable conversation style opened up even the most difficult and narcissistic of punk characters. Borderline therapeutic in its delivery, Rotten admits the creative difficulties he shared with Matlock. “He wanted that kind of innocence, and I’m sorry, I was completely the other way,” Rotten said.  “I saw the Sex Pistols as something completely guilt-ridden. You know, the kids want misery, they want death. They want threatening noises, because that shakes you out of your apathy.”

Savage’s 750+ page book fits nicely in a bag pack, purse or fancy attachée. This is the kind of literary gift that truly reveals not only the music that typified and fuelled a generation of rebels and social dissidents, but it sheds light on the politics, fashion and counter-culture attitude of this time in music history.