Urban Jungle #3

Loads of these little chap(esse)s are bouncing all around the garden right now, despite the spawn taking a fair amount of punishment during the cold snap in early spring. Frogs like to eat slugs, which is great news for any gardener (but not so good for the slug).


Subhumans, Bristol 02.08.12

I spent a very pleasant few hours in the company of around 100 other folk and three cracking bands a few weeks ago. As well as the ageless Subhumans, support came from local loudmouthed ska-punkers Spanner and the superbly shouty Grand Collapse (my first chance to see ’em in action – very impressed by their tight, face-melting anarcho-hardcore sound). Here are a few pics (none of Spanner, but you’ll find around a gazillion on their own site). Click to make ’em bigger.

Grand Collapse



Dick and Phil



The Mob, Bristol 08.04.11


Click to enlarge

For the first time in nearly 30 years, one of the most intense bands from the first wave of @-punk took to the stage and blew 400 minds. The Mob are back. And this time round, they’ve got the kit to really do their sound justice. Mark even smiled! Sure, there were a couple of hiccups, and the guitar wasn’t always 100% in tune with itself or anything else (hey, it’s punk) but, married with the strength of the voice, the pounding rhythms and the intense basslines, the synergy produced from every element created one of the most awesome atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at a gig, punk or otherwise. I have no idea if they’re going to do any more gigs (rumours of a London show were heard) – if they do, get there by any means available.

Here are a few of the pics (click to enlarge) I was able to grab in between regressing to that 16-year-old optimistic human being that still lurks somewhere inside me.

Rubella Ballet
Rubella Ballet 1

Rubella Ballet 2

Zounds 1

Zounds 2

Zounds 3 - Mark Astronaut

The Mob
The Mob 1

The Mob 2

The Mob 3

The Mob 4

Interview With Active Minds Pt. 2

Here’s the second part of the interview done by Deefekt (Kismet HC) with Bobs from AM. If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

The Interview Part 2

Dee: Right, let’s take it back a bit and delve into the beginnings of your exposure into this seedy world of Punk Rock, what was the band that brought it to you, when did you know that this was going to be a life-changing experience?

Bobs: Our older brother, who is six years older than me, got into punk in ’77 and his interest got us into it. I was only 10 or 11 years old at the time. He’d moved on to other things within a year or so, but we stuck with it. Favourite band back then was probably The Damned – I seem to remember them having more of an impact on me than anyone else. The Stranglers, The Clash, The Jam and early Ultravox also made a big impression – along with the Pistols, of course.

When did I know this was going to be a “life changing experience”? I’m not sure I ever really saw it that way, as it’s something I got into at such an early age. When you’re 10 years old, you life path is not really set in any case, so it’s not like something came along and set it off in a new direction. I guess that when I started getting involved in playing in bands and distributing records (when I was around 16 or 17 years old) then I started becoming aware that I was becoming actively involved in something long-term.

So what has kept you within the sphere of hardcore punk? Your musical tastes I know are very eclectic, so what still draws you to playing what is now a musical style that is well into its second decade of existence.

I’d say it was well into its third decade now (surely I haven’t taken that long to answer this interview?). Yes, we do have quite a wide musical taste, but the DIY political music scene is where we belong really. Fast, hardcore punk music still excites me – even nearly 30 years after I first heard it. It’s hard to explain why, but I guess it sounds fresh and genuine – it doesn’t need masses of cash and expensive gear, or gimmicky stage shows. It’s just an honest expression of how people feel – put into a musical form.

Given our own limited musical prowess, there’s nowhere else that we’d fit in really!

Let’s talk a little about the recent album, you recorded it with Alex from Krupskaya in his studio and I think it is safe to say it is probably Active Minds’ most studio accomplished record, it seemed shall we say for use of another word more professionally approached, was that something you intended or Alex’s unusual studio approach?

There was about 7 years gap between recording our previous EP and doing the last album. In that time I think a number of things changed – that included digital recording technology and also our own views. We used to stick quite rigidly to recording all our stuff live in the studio, which we felt was the most honest way of capturing what we were.

When we came to doing the last album, we’d moved away from that a bit. We felt that times had changed to such an extent that we’d be playing to an ever-decreasing clique of people if we recorded in the same way as we used to do, as people these days are used to a more polished sound (without all the mistakes and bum notes left in!).

We’d never wanted to place ourselves in a sub-cultural cul-de-sac, and always wanted to be able to reach other people who weren’t already immersed in the DIY sub-culture. So we didn’t want to end with a sound so raw and ragged that it alienated a lot of people who might otherwise have listened to it.

Alex’s involvement certainly helped a lot, because we knew him well and he liked our stuff – he could see what we were trying to do, and was also quite happy about letting us be very “hands-on” during the mixing stages. And we were pretty happy with the finished result too…

I’d also like to talk about a couple of songs on the new album, starting with the album’s first song, ‘In God We’re Trussed’. There is an intelligent examination of the effects of religion and the church’s religious system attempting to reach God, and religion’s more man-made doctrine and restrictions of do’s and don’ts that produces bondage, bitching and banality?

Is there a question in there? 🙂

Secondly it’s perfectly obvious the system doesn’t work. If we do not take an active role in how the government and economy are organized, are we becoming victims to the larger political and economic processes that dictate our lives? I’m saying this because you play an active role in your local council/government elected body. Do you see the inner workings of the governmental process and the faults that go with it?

Yes, I’m currently an elected local councillor, which gives me an insight into the workings of the governmental process and it’s faults. It also gives me an insight into the parts of it that do work quite well – and the limitations of citizens doing things without some sort of organised administration.

You have to deal with all sorts from the public – apathy, prejudice, blind opposition to anything remotely community-spirited, etc. You also have to deal with all sorts from council officers – mindless bureaucracy, conservatism with a small “c”, protection of personal status and power. But amongst all that there’re also some genuine people in all areas who are doing their best to make a real positive difference for people. You just need to figure out who are the good guys, and develop a strategy for handling the bad ones.

Whilst I’m not advocating that everyone gets involved in local politics like that (as it can be a recipe for driving you crazy), I do think that we need to get more actively involved in the decisions that affect our lives, so that we don’t feel like victims of something that’s being done to us by something we feel unconnected to.

It’s difficult for a lot of people on the street to distinguish one political party from another, each seemingly have a similar ‘fiscal conservatism’ that has come to mean reduced spending unless it benefits the super-rich, and structure the tax code to favour the rich and corporations regardless of the consequences in the public arena.

You mention earlier about corporate owned companies and our use of their products, do you think that we can use various strategies for reclaiming power from big corporations or the government?

DIY ideology can help reclaim power from big corporations – whether that’s making your own music, making your own clothes or growing your own food. Yes, we all use products from corporations, but the extent to which we’re reliant on them to provide everything in our lives is something we can all have a bit of control over.

I think the problems with political parties looking the same as each other (the “main three” in the UK, anyway) is to do with both living in a post-idealogical age and also with our “first-past-the-post” electoral system. All of that has tended to drag all political parties (those seeking to be successful anyway) in towards the political centre. They feel that their job now is mould themselves to fit with the views of mainstream society, rather than have an ideology which they go out and persuade people of. This is very sad in a modern world where mainstream economic thinking is now showing very visible signs of falling to pieces which nobody can ignore anymore.

We are really crying out for some radical analysis which highlights the inbuilt limitations of our current economic system. But the main political parties shy away from providing that analysis for risk of alienating people – resulting in a general political consensus in support of the status-quo.

What can we do to regain some control from or over governments? Get informed, get empowered, and get involved in things going on in the wider community. Organised groups have a voice that greatly magnifies the influence of the individuals that comprise them. And I think it’s a mistake to imagine that there is some government “machine” which exists to prevent change – if change happens at the grass-roots it can (and does) filter up into government thinking at all levels.

Right tell us some information on future plans, gigs/tours, releases, your label ‘Loony Tunes’ has recently been active on re-releasing some older material by other bands, can you elaborate on this, why past recordings, would you ever consider ‘down-loadable’ material instead of the vinyl format?

As well as the last Active Minds album, we’ve put out three other albums in the past two years – two of older material from the ’80s (Kulturkampf, from Barnsley, and Euthanasie, from Germany), and one featuring a modern band (Intro5pect, from the USA).

The decision to release Kulturkampf and Euthanasie really came about because they were both tapes that we’d had kicking about for many years, and were things that we always felt should have come out on vinyl, but never did. In that way, they were both things that we’ve had in mind to put out for many years. Finally getting a new Active Minds LP out was the catalyst for us kick-starting the label again and saying to ourselves that if we really wanted to put out this old stuff then we ought to get off our arse and do it sooner rather than later, as the longer we left it the less likely it was that we’d ever be able to trace any ex-members.

There’s definitely advantages and disadvantages of doing old unreleased stuff by long-defunct bands. On the plus side, you tend to be dealing with people who are resigned to thinking that nobody remembered their old band and were resigned to the band’s obscurity. That usually means that they’re really chuffed that you want to put it out and don’t have the demanding egos that current bands can have. But on the downside, getting anybody interested enough to sort out some lyrics or artwork is like getting blood out of a stone…

We’ve got a couple of ideas for other possible future releases, but they’re not advanced enough for me to want to announce them yet. We are recording some new Active Minds stuff in October though – which should be for a new 7″ on Loony Tunes, plus a split 10″ and a split 7″. Then no doubt we’ll be doing some more gigs abroad next year.

As for releasing stuff in a “downloadable” format – we’ve not discussed selling downloads yet, but so much stuff ends up being ripped-off and downloaded over the net for free that I’m not sure that selling downloads is viable for us. And bands do need to be able to sell their stuff to recover the costs of recording it…

Active Minds live in Bristol 23.01.10

Active Minds, The Whitehall Tavern, Bristol 23rd Jan 2010

Thanks again to Deefekt and Bobs for taking the time to do this 😉


Here are a handful of shots from crusty hardcore punks Born/Dead’s last ever gig on UK soil. It was a belter of a night and a great way for the band to go out. I’d almost forgotten that I had these but better late than never eh? I’m crap at editing and sharing pics (that’s providing I’ve remembered to take my camera along in the first place). I’ll try and do better from now on.

Venue: The White Hart, Whitehall, Bristol, UK
Date: Saturday 22nd August 2009
Band members: Will (guitar), Wyatt (bass), Mackey (drums)
Other notes: support bands were Jesus Bruiser, Warprayer and War Coma

Interview With Active Minds Pt. 1

I’ve recently  been chatting with Mr Dee Fekt, drummer for the ageless Kismet HC and Death Zone pop combos. KHC went on a mini-tour a few weeks ago with Active Minds, old punks in their own right, and visited some of our nearby European neighbours. Seeing as they were sharing stage space and personal hygiene problems, I asked Dee if he would grab a few words from Bobs and/or Set about whatever took their fancy. He kindly obliged so here’s the first half, with questions based on conversations in the back of the minibus and answered by Bobs.

Active Minds Intro

by Steve Deefekt (Kismet Hardcore / Death Zone), April 2010

I am going to start this introduction with the first time that Active Minds had a real impact in my life.

I had known of the band in their previous incarnation as S.A.S and had pushed the snail mail back and forth with Set their drummer many times, but it was not until their first full length album came to my door that the importance of their work would come to my attention.

I had a box of these albums to sell to the local punk herberts of Stoke-on-Trent, which I like to think I did a good job and I also like to think is the reason that when the Active Boys come to Sunny Choke-on-Stench, they always have a favourable turn out and an eager audience.

The ‘Welcome To The Slaughterhouse’ 1987 album, which although can not be said to be a pioneer in studio efficiency is probably a landmark in the sheer force of the message contained, was for me and many of us at last a record that knew where ‘we’ were coming from, and had enough clout that hadn’t been seen since Crass, no compromise or striving for mass appeal. The post-core pretensions of punk rock were not adhered to, let alone a consideration, here was in all its basic form active rebellion in lyrical aggression that kicked against, spat at and generally raised the spirits of those who were at the time getting a bit pig sick of the characterised farce that had become UK punk.

This straight upfront approach to both their European-influenced style of hardcore coupled with their ‘in your face’ lyrics, backed up with integrity, were such a breath of fresh air to the stale and often insincere rock aspirations of current bands.

I won’t go into too much history detail; I think Active Minds would say ‘Dis is getting ridiculously long now’. For those information junkies I suggest reading ‘Trapped In A Scene’ by Ian Glasper, so now read on for an insight on the current activities and mindset of Active Minds.

The Interview Part 1

Dee: Lets talk about records, it has to be said that both the Active Minds boys are known for their avid record collecting as much as their hard hitting political stance, is this hunger for new records still there? And how do you choose one record over another, when it seems that every person and his Nan seems to have a release these days?

Bobs:  I’m not sure the “hunger” is as much as it once was, but there’s still undoubtedly a fascination and very keen interest. I can only speak for myself rather than Set, whenever I get a big parcel of stuff for the distro that we’ve traded with someone I’m just like a big kid who can’t wait to open his presents at Christmas.

Yeah, there is a bit of an overkill in terms of new records available and I don’t even try to keep up with it all anymore – I frequently look at distro boxes at gigs and don’t have a clue who half the bands are. Set still tends to scrutinise Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll reviews to see what new stuff he’s after and then drags around pieces of paper with lists of releases he’s after on them. Personally I just go by some names I may have heard about on the grapevine, bands I may have seen somewhere, sleeves that catch my eye etc. Most of the records I get for myself come via the distro – stuff that we trade from other labels. That’s pretty much always been the case.

We talked about the Internet’s My Space/Face Book/ Youtube and its claim of being “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”. Allowing that search for a band just at your fingertips, does this cheapen the experience of owning a record, the anticipation of the arrival?

Not sure that it cheapens the experience of owning a record – a lot of people don’t bother to own records anymore in any case, and I wouldn’t criticize them for that.

The one thing that it does do, I think, is break down the barriers between people and bands in parts of the world that are vastly different to each. That can certainly be a double edged sword. It has advantages in allowing open communication across the globe in a way that wasn’t previously possible. However, it also disguises those very real differences in circumstances to a large extent. That’s not exactly “cheapening the experience”, but it can lead to a complacency about the modern world being more equal than it actually is.

When I first start writing and trading music with people across the world, it was very apparent in many cases that you were corresponding with people who were much poorer than you, and with bands who couldn’t afford decent gear or a recording studio. Getting hold of music from South America or the Eastern Bloc wasn’t easy, so it made you appreciate it more, along with understanding the circumstances in which it was made and the conditions in which people were living.

Now it can be just a bit too easy to get everything via the web that we can assume that everyone lives an equally privileged life.

The download ability and instant fix not having that lasting impact. Let’s face it, you don’t get bombarded by adverts for the world’s biggest capitalist brands with vinyl releases.

I find adverts on the internet to be a complete pain. They are the principle reason why my computer can’t keep up with the advancement of technology. Because I don’t play games, I don’t see why I should have to keep upgrading my computer to keep up with the demands of the latest graphics. But so many people put these flash adverts on web pages that they can completely jam my computer up, which is just another corporate plot to build obsolescence into everything as far as I’m concerned.

Yeah, you don’t get those adverts with vinyl releases, but they do come with their own downsides – such the amount of space it takes to store them!

The pros and cons of the Internet, making national boundaries a thing of the past, giving bands an open window to get their music out to people. Is it playing with the devil, with the enforced adverts and its ownership by capitalists?

See earlier about the getting rid of national boundaries – because to quite a large extent that can be an illusion, I think. As for the whole caper being owned by capitalists – that pretty much applies to most things in our society (including the companies that make stereos, guitars, amps and drum-kits). That doesn’t stop us from making good use of these things. We don’t have to get sucked in to all the bullshit. Consumerism is a state of mind as much as anything else.

Active Minds

Active Minds, The Old Bell, Derby, 2010 (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 1

Shredding in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 2

Bashing in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Many thanks to Dee and Bobs for sharing their time and thoughts with me and the other reprobates who hang out round these parts, part 2 will follow as soon as it drops into my inbox.