It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Our musical community lost two bright lights far too soon, a family friend from my youth also passed and Sunday past marked the two year anniversary since Big Mick left us. As my friend Stef said at Jordan’s funeral earlier this year, “music means more at times like this”. If it wasn’t for playing and writing music, I can’t even begin to imagine how I would have begun to process the emotional turmoil and sense of helplessness that comes with dealing with death and loss. Every one of us will suffer loss but no two of us will suffer and grieve in the same way; there is no true shared experience, at least to my mind. Much like god or punk rock, people come to develop their own processes and understandings. Far be it for me to tell someone how they feel, as I’d resent those who would prescribe unto me. Whatever the truth of the matter may be, I am eternally grateful.
I was and continue to be deeply saddened to learn of Morgan Nicol’s passing. I’ve known Morgan for years as he’s a Shire lad and his father Pete used to live down the road from my own father in Alyth. I did sound at what would turn out to be Morgan’s last show with Frown a couple of weeks ago and it is hard to process that the intelligent, talented, passionate and cheeky boy I spoke to about “Under Hot Sun” being a hit single in waiting is now no longer with us. My thoughts and heart goes out to all his family, friends and loved ones, including my friends at the Twa Tams in Perth and the boys in the band. My heart breaks for you my friends.
Then the news broke that Robbie Cooper of Dundee alternative rock legends Laeto finally succumbed to his long battle with cancer last week. I didn’t know Robbie personally but I met him a good few times over the years. When I was a kid first discovering the DIY scene (though I didn’t know what it was at the time), it was bands like Laeto, Mercury Tilt Switch and Tenessee Kait that I looked up to and admired. Robbie did a lot of work for others and last year’s Human Is Not Alone campaign was inspirational, a success of character as well as music and charity. Chris Cusack, formerly of Dead Or American, articulated these thoughts with more clarity than I could possibly muster in his eulogy for The Skinny. Please read that here. My thoughts and those of the collective go out to everyone who’s lives Robbie and Morgan touched.
All money raised from the download of the Human Is Not Alone compilation goes to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Friday night saw the start of the Bangers / Uniforms Scottish weekender at The Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh. Bangers are one of my favourite bands and are wonderful people whom we as a band have long admired. Andrew’s work with Specialist Subject Records is endless and something to aspire to and all three guys in the band are great dudes, not at all like the characters that have been created on certain UK forums. The Walking Targets opened the show and showed once again why they are the best young punk rock band in Scotland. I am fortunate enough to have heard their forthcoming album and it is an absolute gem. There are also a couple of plans in the pipeline with those boys that I’m very excited to get to work on. We played next at what was our first set since St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast and slipped right back into the swing of things before Doe took to the floor. They’re a great band with a powerful girl/boy vocal dynamic, armed with great songs and intricate guitars but I couldn’t help but miss the bass. Bangers killed it, as expected. I was especially taken on this occasion by Roo’s guitar playing and the thought crossed my mind (not for the only time over the weekend) that Bangers remind me somewhat of Thin Lizzy.
Big thanks to Kev at Anti-Manifesto for hosting a very fine show indeed. AM have just released the “Anti-Manifesto; Round One” compilation tape celebrating their 10 year anniversary. It features music from bands who’ve played AM shows across the last decade including the likes of Bomb The Music Industry!, Mike Park, The Murderburgers, Sweet Empire, Laura Stevenson, Sundowner and heaps more. We roasters of Uniforms are on there alongside Bonehouse representing Dundee. The artwork was done by the mighty Wolf Mask and it comes on your choice of orange or green cassette (I chose orange, obviously). All profits from sales of the tape will go to Cancer Research UK.
Saturday saw us pull double-duty with a matinee show at The Corinna in Perth. It’s quite amusing that Ali and I have talked about doing a combined MTAT / DIY Rock Shop all ages show for years and when we finally got round to making it happen, I lived in Dundee. DIY Rock Shop is an excellent enterprise, providing a “School of Rock”, if you will, for kids aged 9 – 16. Rock’n’roll will never die so long as there are kids out there busting out noisy Nirvana covers and I would have bitten your arms off if such a thing were to exist when I was a teenager. It’s funny also that Ali gave 13 Broken Fingers our first Perth show when she put us on alongside Stoma at The Grill sometime back in the early 00s when Perth was pop-punk capital of Scotland.
The two young bands that played were Self Will Run Riot and The Mexican Empire, the former of which were busting out some serious post-rock/progressive metal jamz that belied their youth. I struggle to compose a logically progressive song in my early 30s and I’ve been trying for more than half my life; these kids have got me beat already and they’re definitely a band worth keeping an eye on. It was
a personal affair for us too as Abbie’s five year old cousin Noah (rocking his Uniforms Rat shirt!) came to his first hardcore show and had his brain rattled around his skull in the most posi manner imaginable by our friends Get It Together. Thanks so much to everyone involved and everyone who came out for the show. We’ll definitely be doing another one some time, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Then it was up the road to Dundee to set up for the second time and abuse our pizza privileges before doors and the arrival of the mighty Shithawks at their uncompromising and driving best. Our friends in Sink Alaska were up next and absolutely destroyed. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing their new recordings and I’m very excited that we’ll be working with them to put out their new double A-side 7″ single soon. I’d also like to thank Alshy for the thoughts and sentiments expressed prior to playing “Among The Wretched”. Our set was fun as always when we play at home and Bangers again demonstrated their greatness. A quality show all round before a quick load out and down the road for cups of tea and philosophical discussion.
We kicked off Sunday morning with breakfast before Bangers went to Stirling to fail to record a radio session in what can only be described as a Terry Butcher while we took our time getting to Glasgow for the half-dayer with Elway, Joe McMahon, Roscoe Vacant, The Walking Targets and Andy Chainsaw. Given the week that had passed and the day that it was, I was feeling a little reflective but feeling focussed. Thanks to Andy for the thoughtful shout out before playing “Song For Derrick Johnston To Sing”. As a wise man once said, “when I got the music, I got a place to go”. As Abbie said, “well, you certainly raged”. With a tear rolling down my face as we finished up Father’s Day, I felt my chest rise and heart swell so turned my back to the audience. I felt we achieved our aim of raging it all out. It certainly felt like a purging. To me, that’s what a punk is to do.
Thank you to everyone involved in a memorable weekend. Thanks to Chadbro for telling me we have an image and ideology problem and how punk used to be about “fuck this shit”, yet not knowing who Kathleen Hanna was.
At times like this, music means more.