Thursday, April 29, 2010


I've written a piece about the state of the contemporary Left for those nice kids over at Indieoma. The site's readership is heavily US-based, so that's why I've tried to limit the usual British colloquialisms (probably dismally failed in this respect) and mentioned 'backstage at SXSW' instead of 'in the Glastonbury VIP tent'. If you're a paid up member of a left wing party the piece will probably piss you off, and I may well have screwed up on the brief, but have a rummage around the rest of the site while you're there, as there are loads of articles and interviews, including worthwhile contributions from K-Punk and Nina IT. 

This write-up triggered a shedload of memories about Luton Sixth Form College, for some arcane reason. In 1993, it seemed that the Anti-Nazi League teleported into Luton from straight outta nowhere, and then seemingly rushed back there a few months later. I'd already fallen foul of ANL diktats concerning badges and attire, but the real facepalm moment was when one of their bright sparks declared the group had 'mobilised in Bury Park to stop the BNP'. Utter codswallop: 1) the BNP might have been stupid, but they weren't so crazy to head down there without serious weight of numbers – which, given their laziness and preference for boozing it up, they usually lacked. Chasing a weedy-looking student across a car park at closing time or smashing windows was more their style 2) the Bury Park Youth Posse really didn't require lollypop-sporting honkies to fight their battles for them 3) none of the Bury Park residents I knew ever saw more than a couple of ANL guys running a stall on the odd Saturday afternoon. Actually, if they'd really wanted to stop the BNP, they could have jumped on the 31 to Dunstable, where you could regularly catch five or six ming-mongs flogging The Flag to an uninterested public outside the library or the Winston Churchill pub, before some portly copper would trundle over, ask them to move 50m along the pavement, and waddle off again. 

I knew this Muslim girl, Shaheen, and some ANL boy who fancied her gave her a Fun-Da-Mental cassette single, telling her she'd like it. "Why did he give me this crap?" she later moaned. "Just because they're pakis?" Unfortunately for him, she was more of an Alice Cooper loyalist. She actually had a C60 filled entirely with the song Poison and would play that on her Walkman, on perpetual repeat. Ah, those halcyon, pre-Spotify days...

I was doing a Politics A-level and, one day, there was some sort of 'meet the politicians' summit in London for sixth formers, so a few of us got bussed down to the Barbican to attend. We were in this auditorium, with various backbenchers talking about the electoral process and taking questions. One of the other sixth form groups comprised a bunch of five kids who looked way cooler than our lot; a girl with piercings, a camo T-shirt, fishnets and DMs; some guy with Sid Vicious hair and a red star on his army surplus get the picture. We just looked like the Bash Street Kids (me as Plug, natch), but I had messy hair and army boots, so I tried to catch her eye a few times during a long monologue on the pitfalls of proportional representation (by the way, I got an 'A' in Politics, so if any sixth formers need help with their coursework, just bung me a monkey and I'll sort it). I was already planning to bunk the afternoon sessions and go to Kensington Market, and thought she'd be dead impressed if I offered her the chance to wander around a joss stick-scented emporium of industrial records, studded wristbands, sky blue hair extensions and 57 varieties of 'Misfits' T-shirt. 

Anyway, the microphone was being offered around the audience and the girl from the other college put her hand up. Wow, talk about bad cold reading: out came this crystal-cut, home counties accent. "I'd like to arrsk...why are there so few black people in Parliament?" she enquired in her best Paxman drawl. 

Luckily, this dead straight football fan, Phil, and a Muslim guy, Faruk, were up for the High St Ken challenge, so we jumped the Circle Line there around 1pm. Phil was muttering stuff about weirdos and freaks but couldn't stop gawping at goth girls, so I had him pegged as a closet vampyr fancier. I bought my first copy of Second Annual Report by TG there, that afternoon - a fiver, with a water-stained cover. Well, it was a blank cover anyway, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bag such a rare item (look, we didn't have eBay back then, and I didn't even have a CD player - you youngsters really have to astrally project yourselves to another dimension on this one).

So, we headed back around 3.00, to catch the last speaker session and get the bus back to Luton, me hoping our Politics teacher didn't ask himself why I was suddenly clutching an LP-shaped plastic bag. John Smith, leader of the Labour Party, was meant to be onstage but he couldn't make it in the end, so they sent some understudy to fill in instead. It was some gormless, baby-faced pillock, who kept laughing nervously and who didn't seem to be able to answer any of the questions. Seriously. This older guy was standing behind him and looked embarrassed on the audience's behalf. 

"But why should we vote Labour if you're going to punish entrepreneurs with higher taxes?" some 17-year old Tory geek in a paisley jumper demanded. The Labour prat just rictus grinned, went "Uh huh huh! Well...", and the older bloke had to step forward to the mic and announce that they wouldn't be taking any more questions. It was a wash-out to say the least, and I wondered why my dad had told me to always vote Labour, come rain, hail or shine. 

That nervous, giggly idiot's name? Tony Blair. 

When John Smith flipped his motor, I thought, Oh boy, are they fucked.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I'm always on at the WOOFAH editorial team to get their butts down to the annual London Zine Symposium, to promote the UK's leading reggae / grime / dubstep periodical in person. Never happens, though. This is mainly due to 1) the mag selling out well in advance of the event, every time 2) the WOOFAH head honchos being lazy, selfish slobs, who'd rather spend Sunday afternoons building healthy parental relationships with their children than dutifully tromping around a maze of tables strewn with fanzines.

Well, sod it: I've decided that if any spare, unsold copies of WOOFAH 4 are floating around by May 29th - the date of the next LZS - I'm going to take them down and flog 'em myself. No, of course I haven't got 'permission' from WOOFAH HQ to strike out on this 'lone wolf' escapade...but, damn it, Malcolm McLaren died for my right to disregard authority.

So, how does the average or budding zine scribbler get through one of these fests in one piece? How do you guarantee that a vibrant day out with your creative peers doesn't descend into an adrenaline-soaked nightmare of knotted pulp? Well, here's some advice that I've found quite useful - hopefully it might help you too.


* SOME ZINES. Not hundreds, but as many as you can bear to lug back home in the event you don't shift any on the day. Throwing copies of your own creation into the bin because your shoulder's starting to hurt must be one of the saddest feelings in the world, and it will really piss off the obligatory woman in the Earth First T-shirt.

* COMFY SHOES. I recommend DMs.

* A GREAT BIG SMILE. Even if your zine's called Stillborn and features a collection of harrowing poems about your ongoing war with a brainwashed, hypocritical, sheepish society that deserves nothing less than complete annihilation , it's best to be nice and approachable when you're chatting to fellow fest-goers.

* SOME DOSH. Trading zines is OK and all, but it's good form to buy a few as it shows you support the scene that supports you, and you haven't just come to set out your stall and fuck off with the proceeds straight after.



* THE COMMUNAL TABLE. I'm going to assume most zine writers never get round to actually sending a cheque for their own personal stalls in advance of the deadline, so the free communal table's a good place to start. This isn't that bad, actually, and is probably what I'm going to do with any leftover copies of WOOFAH. You get the thrill of seeing your creation surrounded by loads of other zines, making  you feel part of a diverse, burgeoning scene. You may wish to take a photo of the communal table at this point. But do bear in mind - you can only drop off a few copies. Plonking down 50 issues (or trying to strategically 'place' your zines over the tops of others) is incredibly selfish and immature. So don't do it.

* THE SHARED TABLE. You pay a bit and you get more space for a greater number of issues. However, you're sharing your table with another zine entrepreneur and have to respect their space and tolerate their company. Even if it's a 4ft guy with a rasta hat and facial tattoos called Elf Steve, who's doing a vegan recipe zine. Or a bloke called Jeremy Whitby-Farquhar, who's promoting a photo zine packed with snaps of Dalston artists exposing their genitalia, and who can't shut his trap about Dalston 'art spaces' or rare 7"s he's unearthed in local charity shops. With a bit of luck, the zine fest organisers will have somebody on hand to man the stalls, meaning you can go for a wander.

On the flip side, you might end up sharing with someone really cool, and even end up producing a 'split zine' with them as a result (the zine equivalent of marriage).

* THE LONE TABLE. You pay even more and have your own dedicated pitch space. Some zine writers bottle out of this option, terrified by the thought of returning to a mountain of unsold issues. Again, I can't stress this enough - less is more in these situations. However, if you do decide to go out on a limb and book the full table, it doesn't hurt to have a gimmick. Bring a ghetto blaster and play some tunes. Lay on some veggie samosas. Zines with free CD-Rs always sell well, hint hint.  Turn your table into a memorable event. Flirt with potential buyers. Hire a fire-breathing goth dominatrix, or a ball-balancing seal, for entertainment.


* ANARCHO-PUNK who does a black and white A5 zine called (A)rmed Dezire or Kickin' Up Shit and complains about all the zines with glossy / colour covers that "shouldn't be here".

* ZINE VETERAN who's been covering the South East London indie scene since 1984, can tell you a hundred stories about the June Brides, spent 20 years hitchhiking to gigs and remembers when you had to pick carpet fibres out of your glue-encrusted palms for weeks after getting an issue out the door. Usually a pleasant, knowledgeable character, in a sort of John Peel / Annie Nightingale vein, but very occasionally a mean-tempered alcoholic. Instantly recognisable by the scalpel scars around the fingers. 

* SCHOOL KIDS who've been encouraged by some communist teacher to submit their crappy little spring term 'creative publishing' project. Avoid.

* RIOT GRRRL COMIC ARTIST WITH A FOREARM TATTOO. Quite possibly the coolest person there. Once rented a flat off Brix Smith, and can talk for hours about fonts and pantones. Well worth getting to know.

* BLOKE WHO WALKS AROUND BROWSING THE ZINES AND GOING, "MMM, VERY INTERESTING!" He never buys any, kills an hour and then goes home and writes a piece for The Guardian, or some stupid blog, about how fanzines "are making a comeback".

* DESPERATE GUY WHO'S JUST LAUNCHED HIS FIRST ZINE. Eyes dart around nervously as he anticipates his first buyer. Usually pisses everyone off by scooping up a pile under his arm and approaching punters at random, cheerily imploring them to "Go on, give it a go, it's cheaper than a pint...and far healthier too! [nervous laugh]"

* PERSON WHO BAKES LOADS OF VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE. God bless this person. This is why you shouldn't bring sandwiches to zine fests; there's always an opportunity to stuff your guts with delicious cake, baked by a woman in a green mohair jumper. Just don't make it obvious if you're on your fourth slice.

* WILD CARD CARTOONIST. Does a really funny, sloppily drawn comic with loads of sex, swearing and violence. Couldn't give a toss if (s)he flogs any copies or not and is normally up for popping down the road for a pint around 2pm.

* ZINE SCENE NOVICE. Staggers around, bug-eyed, asking 1,000 questions about design, printing and distribution. Attends all the workshops. Emerges one seriously fired-up bunny, gleefully informing everyone that (s)he's starting up a zine! Wakes up the next day and starts a blog.

* OCCULTIST. Issue 23 of Spiral Psi-Kosis features: an article on gnostic heresies; a personal account of a trip to a Hastings tea shop (Crowley fell asleep at one of the tables); reprint of a Sheffield-based hermaphrodite's take on sex magick, from 1977; and calls for a mass druid intervention at next year's Mayday demo. Plus an interview with Swedish 'multimedia pagan performance artist' (he plays a laptop in front of a TV) Whirlygig Ouroboros.


* Buy a copy of Socialist Worker. No way is that pile of shit a 'zine'.

* Blurt out: "Are you having a laugh? My dog could have knocked that together."

* Ask ANY zine writer, "What's it about?" Pick it up and have a fucking look, you dodo.

* Steal a zine. Seriously, this is on par with stealing from Oxfam, and you're liable to wind up with broken teeth if you try it on with Whitechapel Anarchist Group. I only ever got away with nicking a copy of Savage Messiah because the editor found me hypnotically attractive, and I was only borrowing it 'til payday anyway.  

* Go into a workshop and disrupt the session with loud-mouthed tales about how you produced three issues of Bournemouth's Burning with your college mates Jim and 'Mental', and how it was well crucial, even though it comprised eight one-sided, handwritten A4 pages stapled together, and only two people paid 30p for it (one being your Semiotics tutor, who was just looking for an excuse to kick you off the course).

* Interfere with the ball-balancing seal.

* Disappear into the toilet with one of the zines for half an hour (and then emerge without it). 

* Talk about blogs. Sorry, does it say BLOG SYMPOSIUM on the sign? Zine auteurs generally regard bloggers as weak-hearted, penny-pinching keyboard warriors who lack the guts to commit their words to permanency (incidentally, bet you £40 Blogger culls this site in the next couple of years. I just can't see any of this lasting, what with the Digital Economy Act on the horizon, plus the fact Blogger surely can't be making money from this venture). Mentioning blogs at a zine fest is like informing a victims' support group that someone 'killed' you in 'Second Life'. 

* Dump crisp packets or half-drunk cans of pop on top of the zines. Those are people's babies you're messing up, you slovenly cur. Ditto leafing through zines with greasy fingers and soiling the pages.

* Pretend you do a fanzine when you don't. It's easy to get carried away at these sorts of event and start acting like you're in with the independent crowd, but it's not worth the energy you'll expend maintaining the lie. Take that from someone who casually tossed around the old "in a band" chestnut in the presence of girls, even though we had only two rubbish Taiwanese guitars and about as much chance of getting a gig as that guy who used to play harmonica outside Green Park tube station. Someone'll just ask you, "Where do you get yours printed?", and the ensuing, deafening WHEEEEP! will be the sound of 50 bullshit detectors going off at once. 

" do mine down...down...Office Angels..??"

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Here's something to take your mind off Pope Benny arranging ratlines for the latest gaggle of defrocked vestry vampires! 58+ minutes of good, honest ANARCHO-PUNK. Basically, I was pissing around on free 'Mixxx' software one night, and ended up knocking this together. WARNING - the mixing is DIABOLICAL (cheers, Stella); the sound levels are all over the place; and I probably pressed the 'Flanger' FX button too many times to ever stand an earthly's of bagging a DJ slot with Heatwave. But hey - this is DIY, not EMI!

Anyway, click on the link at the end of the post to download it, in FOULEST quality MP3 format, and that's your rush hour soundtrack sorted ((NB - you may want to crank your BASS up a notch on some tracks. You might also want to invest in some Nurofen, prior to playing)). Honorary shout-out to John Eden for kindly offering to help out with file conversion, and apologies to BTi mucker PAUL STN for the lack of anything by Reality Control. Right, here we go....track list...


Kicking off with a complete mystery band - ain't got a clue who they were or if they recorded anything else. Bet you 50p that one of their gigs ended in an almighty kerfuffle between anarchos and skinheads, though. They've just got that sort of sound about 'em.


Pro-ALF and proud - dedicated to Countryside Alliance imbeciles everywhere.


Vintage A-Punk/from the era/when everyone used to/write lyrics like this/on a typewriter/OF COURSE THEY FUCKING DID/// From their '79 Hex mini-LP, a sort of 'concept' platter about a housewife having a nervous breakdown. Only Vi Subversa formed a punk band and sang about it, whereas my old dear started dressing in a sari after she was invited to an Indian wedding ((thank Satan, this cringeworthy episode only lasted a fortnight...she soon resumed Bible-bashing, and opening her son's mail behind his back, with a vengeance)).


The 'Dutch Crass', well deserving of their reputation and your Googling. Been through more line-up changes and musical styles than I can scribble down here, though their spiky pogo-punk stuff still does it for me for the most.

ANYONE can chuck on a black shirt, black jeans, para boots and a blob of Concrete hairgel, and look like they've just staggered out of Dial House at sunrise. It takes a special sort of dedication to actually model your barnet on Lady Justice from the Crass logo. I haven't got a paternal bone in my body, but if I met this chick and she wanted kids with me, I don't know how I could refuse. I'm already thinking how much fun it'd be to buy our sprog his/her first copy of 'Fungus The Bogeyman' and spice up the inevitable 4th birthday 'pass the parcel' ritual with some Conflict


Before any pedants fire up with "That's not Anarcho-Punk, it's US Hardcore!!", I'd just like to say: that's a WHOPPING BIG circled 'A' inside the first Reagan Youth LP fold-out cover. Miles better than Minor Threat boasting about glugging lemonade and saving themselves for marriage, or whatever they were squeaking about.


Proper 'ard kore nutters. Interviews with Apostles / Academy 23 / UNIT frontman Andy Martin make Mark E Smith come across like Daniel O'Donnell, and I can think of precious few other 'punk anti-heroes' out there blessed with in-depth knowledge of quantum mathematics, astronomy, karate and spin bowling. Though he'd probably deride me as a pathetic, nostalgic waste of DNA, only fit to donate his wretched carcass to medical research for even doing this mix. Ex-Apostles drummer Chris Low once sent me a really cool anti-royal family A4 print, which I've since had framed.


Anti-royal wedding single from '86, with Class War mainman Ian Bone on vox. Should've topped the charts, but merely resulted in a hilarious Daily Mail expose', babbling on about sick anarchist troublemakers producing a chilling picture of Prince William in a noose.


Hastings' most shambolic. Properly tuned guitars are a decadent, booge-wah concept and this killer track proves why. Like a Chad Valley turntable running low on batteries, as a wiser man than I once put it. Sums up the whole c'mon, anyone can do this shit! spirit of punk in two-and-a-bit glorious minutes.


South London feminist punker legends. Major kudos for half-inching an entire Boney M track, with lyrics you'll easily relate to if you've ever spent an 'evening from Hell' in some suburban, 'Ritzy'-style shithole nightclub. 


Is that Annie Anxiety on vocals? Fuck, I'd love to see one of those 'PUA' creeps try it on with her, whoever she is. Narky pre-Flux Of Pink Indians brickwall thud. Good luck sneaking this onto the playlist at your mum's 60th. By the way, if you're wondering why Tube Disaster ain't on here, it's 'cos Mixxx refused to load it. Blame the robot, not me.


Bet you they're not the real Soledad Brothers. Dedicated to all you banker cunts who haven't even had the decency to top yourselves yet.

If you strolled up to this maenad and told her that that spazbox Sandi Thom wants to be a 'punk rocker with flowers in her hair', here's the stare she'd rightly give you


There wasn't a pig, sheep, cow, fox, deer or beagle not on its hind legs and cheering, the day this riotous EP came out. Bleedin' seminal.


I personally can't stand this band - always sounded like Ben Elton haranguing the listener over stodgy prog rock, to this cat's ears at least ((and their drummer was called 'Trotsky' - what a cunt!)) - but including them in the mix is probably less hassle than having folks pop up in Comments, demanding "What about the Subhumans??!?" So here's one of their early, decent tunes. The lyrics are still awful, mind.


Crusties go apeshit about this band for a reason.


I once read a Genesis P-Orridge interview from '81, where, discussing Crass, he sneered: "I'm not interested. They make punk records or electronic records, or whatever's fashionable this week". I never really understood that statement - electronic records?? - until I heard Hit Parade. Allegedly ersatz Crass, with a Belfast anarchist on vocals, released around the time of the H-Block hunger strikes.


The black sheep of this mix, given that singer John Cato dumped his anarchist banners in the bin, ended up knocking around with nazi weirdo David Myatt and helped to set up Combat 18 in the late '80s. AYS recorded two EPs of competent hardcore, but this one's my favourite, mainly 'cos I like the way the drummer's all over the shop.


Luton Punx, inn'it. No doubt the same miscreants who sprayed the massive SMASH UNILEVER graffito across the bridge near Wardown Park ((still there in '96)). Neil Transpontine / History Is Made At Night was in this band, though I don't know if he's on this track.


You've gotta crank the volume up for these two rackets. Rough-as-a-badger's-arse sludge-punk from Utrecht and South East London, respectively.

John Eden made some joke about infecting this mix with a dose of 'Umbrella' by Rihanna, during the painstaking .wav to MP3 conversion process. I'm sure he didn't have this brolly-packin' Venus in mind, though


I don't know if Milton Keynes' reputation as 'suicide capital of Britain' was ever based on actual statistics, or just urban myth cos it's a mass housing scheme. But the place threw up some real doomy bands in its time. I love Exit-Stance and their dark rumblings, and their Crime Against Humanity and While Backs Are Turned EPs are well recommended. The bus from Luton to MK used to take ages, but at least you got a huge outdoor market flogging second hand records, paperbacks and army surplus clobber when you finally arrived. Oh, and porn - stalls full of it. I once met the bassist ((Jez, I think?)) by chance, at a Huggy Bear gig in Kings X, and he seemed gobsmacked that I'd even heard of Exit-Stance. Listening to the EP again, for the first time in donkeys', I realise I completely overlooked their dancey, tribal drumming style first time round.


Yeah, more Ex, why not?


More hunter-bashing hilarity. Admittedly, I've never been sabbing, but I support the fox all the way. When you get indignant country folk huffing, "Well, they have to be culled one way or another! You can't just let them run amok, picking off chickens willy nilly! You pampered city know nowt!", I can't stop laughing. Yeah, but that's precisely WHY I like foxes! Cos they go and do all this crazy shit with your organic chickens, and then poo on your porch as a calling card. I can't justify it. I'd rather go for a drink with a fox than a horse or hound, put it that way. Besides, I remember crying over Bambi when I was 4, so fuck off, you soulless, chinless cunts.


This one's dedicated to the fine, upstanding specimen of manliness who assaulted Ian Tomlinson ((and then whimpered off on 'sick leave' when the shit hit the fan)).


Bit of a joke inclusion here, but cider and Anarcho Punk go together like Weetabix and milk. No doubt Garry Bushell fancied the singer at some point.


If I could have a one-off loan of a 'gig time machine', I'd probably opt for Conflict or Zodiac Mindwarp, circa '86 ((the year 'the system' finally abolished corporal punishment in schools. Yeah, I bet you younger readers thought it died out in 1923...if only)). I don't know what else to say about this track. I'm sure others will disagree, but if UK Anarcho Punk ever hit a tidemark it was probably Conflict's Ungovernable Force LP. They certainly never bettered it.


Nab it HERE

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