Write Yer Ane Zine

Words about DIY punk; records, shows, interviews, whatever.

Category: Essays

Plague Diaries; One

“You should keep a journal, they’ll teach this in school a hundred years from now”.

My sister is one of the most measured, prodigious and driven human beings I’ve ever known. She is very good at being an adult and a functional human being and, given that I’m the younger of the siblings, the first yardstick by which I measure myself. I’ve always felt somewhat lagging, but reassured myself in characteristically self-delusional fashion that I was the creative one. Utter bullshit, obviously, but that’s for another time. History is written by the victors.

There’s a cacophony of noise despite dead streets. I’ve barely written a word of prose since the Brexit referendum but it feels like I’ve never stopped trying to carry the message, in the parlance of recovery. It’s a pity discourse has descended into screeching at a wall in mini-sociology essays on fuckin’ facebook; a practice I detest in others and loathe more deeply in myself, yet onwards we go; riffing on addiction, capitalist alienation and attendant demoralisation, without the hope of hope; the primary cause of death by suicide.

Now may not be the time for punk rock shows, but it’s definitely time for the lessons that punk rock has taught us. In times of chaos and confusion, clarity is key or, as Mick would’ve said, “the six P’s”; prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance; I’m deeply colonised (again, for another time). Fuck knows how you’d prepare for this, eh Tories?

We’re in this for the long haul, now is time to focus thinking, to move beyond rhetoric into applied philosophy and action.

Joe Exotic is a weapons-grade roaster, by the way.

 

Aftermath of a cowpunk ruckus.

 

Behind the bar at Dundee Women’s Fest.

 

Word on the street…

 

Stage set for Dundee Women’s Festival

 

Oil and water on tarmac gutter canvas

 

Turnstile at Glasgow Garage. Great fun but GAG stole the show.

 

The City Is Yours

 

The roads have never been this silent.

 

Without darkness, there can be no light.

 

Hardcore is a source of that light.

 

Fourteenth Birthday didn’t feel hugely like a party, more a holding ritual.

 

Work biyz, miss ye.

 

From Donna Ramone’s column in Razorcake 115. Art by Bon3dust.

 

Fuck Wetherspoons, dead city or otherwise.

 

Moscow, 91.

 

Mandated at 6pm; closed by 6.05pm.

 

A silent and heavy load-out.

 

Gravity.

 

Art by unknown.

 

Oil has no value in an economy without consumption.

 

Even in blackouts.

 

C. Gull kens better than Boris.

 

Art by Yugø (?)

 

Despite everything, deep inexpressible fervent hope remains.

 

The final punk 7″ of the neoliberal capitalocene?

 

In half-light we float onwards into the abyss.

 

Energy doesn’t die, it merely transforms.

 

Pin-drop human silence, bird riffs for days.

 

Everything that is has been willed, usually by cunts.

 

Rad Apples is closed, for now. Make That A Take aren’t taking any bookings at the moment and, at very least, all April and May shows are off. There are likely to be more cancellations; it’s not unimaginable that we’ll be lucky to get a gig this year, let alone a festival. The AJJ show remains on, at this time, but is subject to change. MTAT will do our best to keep everyone informed of any and all developments. It’s a fucking nightmare, for sure. Sorry to folk who’ve been trying to get in touch, things have been pretty overwhelming, as I know they’ve been for most.

All things considered, I consider myself exceptionally lucky. I can’t express how grateful I am to be living through this nightmare with Purple Haze, the most loving, compassionate and radical human being I have ever known. We’re currently listening to Beastie Boys (“Paul’s Boutique”, thanks for asking) whilst screenprinting and blogging respectively, and acknowledge the deep privilege of that position. We always joked that it’d take the collapse of western civilisation before we finally took a break…

If you’d like to show us solidarity at this time, we’d love to sell you some records and music. There are 100+ releases available from the MTAT Bandcamp page and a STACK of vinyl/CDs/cassettes/swag for sale at our Bigcartel page. Ye can also download the debut single from ALLDEEPENDS here, 7″ pre-order coming this week. Rad Apples are selling gift vouchers for future dinners too. I’d dearly love to smash a Cowpunk Burger into my face right now.

 

Take a read of this, this, this, this, this, this and this, if ye fancy.

Mutual aid and community solidarity is more important now than ever so stay close, stay in contact but also take care of yourself. Too much social media and too much boozin’ is bad for your health, especially if ye combine the two, in my experience!

Is this The End Of History?

Perhaps the end of the end of history?

We’re through the looking glass and into the abyss that’s been staring through us since we forgot the lessons of the last hundred and fifty years. Shit is scary but we WILL get through and, together, we’ll build the new world.

Stay safe, friends.

– xdrkx

‘Ugly David’

‘Ugly David’

An essay by Dom Kaddish

I wasn’t in the habit of noticing it at all: a small rectangular fridge magnet bearing a likeness of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, gifted to me by an eccentric member of the Hume Society many years ago….It is frankly hideous: Hume’s likeness comes from a bad waxwork, and it looks like he is melting. To avoid offending my eyes with it, I had placed this piece of cheap and ugly plastic on the side of the fridge. It was meant to be; out of sight, out of mind; (And, more to the point, out of sight and mind for potentially curious houseguests).

But there I was in the kitchen last night, doing the dishes as a way of 1.) hiding from the kids for ten minutes, and, 2.) focusing on something small, tedious and halfway in the midst of the (mindboggling and bewildering) COVID-19 crisis in the UK, when Ugly David reached right out from the fridge and grabbed me (I mean this figuratively, not literally; I have not lost my mind….Yet).

A quote beside David reads: “Tis not reason that is the guide of life, but custom”. The trained philosopher in me has always viewed this as a fairly dull statement of Hume’s philosophy (empiricism). The vain aesthete in me has always seen it as a fairly poor and random slogan for a fridge magnet.

But then I got to thinking….

Our habit in the face of something like the COVID-19 pandemic is to be hyper-rational. And by ‘our’ here, I mean that of literally everyone: child, teenager, parent, grandparent, teacher, pupil, friend, sibling, doctor, nurse, shopworker, policeman, criminal, soldier, student, artist, worker, jobseeker, engineer, homeless person, asylum seeker, politician, journalist, economist, epidemiologist…. Whichever terms here best describe you (and there are innumerably many others that can be added), we are extremely well versed in being hyper-rational these days.

This means we do things like the following: we reason in terms of chains of inference (if X, then Y…. Either A or B…. ); we look for relationships of cause and effect; we try to reason in terms of relevant analogies, symmetries, asymmetries and patterns; we think in terms of parts and wholes…. These and other processes are what we might call the hyper-rationalist ‘toolkit’.

This toolkit can be put to especially industrious use in networked societies. This is because there is astronomically more information for these habits and customs to work with in such societies. In fact, you might call these habits and customs ‘algorithms’. This is because they can be mathematically modeled and trained, and because a particular class of machines (Von Neumann ones) are extremely good at performing them (in fact, significantly better than humans in certain cases, such as on chains of inference and pattern recognition).

This can be a very good thing. We do, for instance, all have very good reasons to be concerned for healthcare workers and the ill/vulnerable at this time, and it is completely rational to want to support them as best we can. The right algorithms and machines, moreover, can and will be an important part of helping us through this.

Hume’s point, however, is that these kinds of habits and customs, although important, can only be part of the story. There are two main reasons for this (it is of course a paradox that these are reasons, but just suspend that trained philosopher ‘clever clogs’ tick for a moment: dull scholastic papers can be written about it in the future….) First: being hyper-rational can guide us in the wrong direction, in no direction at all, or in too many directions at once (the toolkit is only as good as its material, and it can do a botched job). Second: there are other kinds of habits and customs.

On the first point, it is worth noting that there are other (less edifying) types that could have been added to the list of people given above: ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘narcissist’, ‘egotist’, ‘paranoiac’, ‘reactive’, ‘harsh judge’, ‘troll’, ‘preacher’, ‘catastrophist’….

Hume, I think, would want to see these types in a continuum with the ones listed above. This is because we all have the propensity to be these kinds of people at least some of the time, and because these less edifying types also make use of the hyper-rationalist tool kit. The conspiracy theorist will, for instance, reason in terms of cause and effect (Which scapegoat/dark nemesis is the cause of all of this? Who must be responsible?). The paranoiac will do this too, and often with justifiable reason in the immediate circumstances surrounding a change that has not yet become familiar (Is that person standing less than two metres from me? Will they cause something in me?). And the catastrophist will reason by analogy and see things in terms of patterns and parts and wholes (Is this a kind of ‘war’? Have I been ‘enlisted’? Where are we on a sliding scale between CJD/Spanish Flu/ The Plague? What part will this play in rearranging the whole economy?)

Quite how well these types use the hyper-rationalist toolkit is a different matter. That they are using it is a matter of fact, and one that is historically intensified in highly networked societies, where we all have the means to be these kinds of people more often, and, thereby, to lead ourselves and others round and round in vicious circles of scepticism, shame, anxiety and doubt.

On the second point, consider three recent events: 1.) when the phrase ‘panic buying’ entered the media in connection with COVID-19, people started panic buying; 2.) when it was announced that pubs would be closing (Friday 20th March 2020), people bought booze in bulk; 3.) when it was announced that large sections of the UK population were being asked not to go to work, people visited parks and holiday spots.

These three events generated a lot of moralism online, but the target was largely misplaced. People weren’t doing these things for reasons they had reflected on; they were acting according to well-ingrained habits and customs that have been inculcated in them (Worried? Let’s go shopping…. Pubs are shut? Let’s party back at mine…. No work on Monday? Let’s go on holiday….)

Bad customs and habits can be as worthy of condemnation as bad intentions and reasons, and just as pernicious in their effects. If we fail to recognise precisely what we are condemning, however, and how badly and condescendingly we sometimes do it, then we will fail to see how the situation might be altered for the better: in the face of a pandemic, you can’t just appeal to people’s reason and expect things to be altered immediately; you also have to reshape their habits and customs, and this takes time.

The ‘what aboutery’ response here, of course, is that time is what we might not have. But this never was a zero sum game: it is not a case of either reason or custom. Instead, Hume’s point is that you must appeal to both, because they are in a continuum, and, even more importantly, you ought to focus most of your attention on customs and habits, because that’s where you can expect the most important and progressive changes to happen.

Providing we can find the time to let them grow, such changes can, as Hume puts it, be our ‘guide of life’. Whether and how we can find the time for them at a national/planetary/civilisational level is a matter of great hyper-rational consternation right now. What many of us do currently have, however, in a situation where many of our most cherished habits and customs have received an almighty jolt, is the scope to reinvent our own habits and customs. And we have to do this, both in order to have them to fall back on for personal care, and in preparation to join the dots between them/ scale them up for the more caring society that we are going to have to find the courage and energy for as we move towards the future.

So, I was not in the habit of noticing an ugly fridge magnet that a snobby part of me had intentionally misplaced….

What I was also not in the habit of thinking was that a sustained philosophical reflection like this could have grown out of one Koan-ish sentence, previously discounted as a bad slogan (‘Tis not reason….’), or that the reflection in question could have been written out on a phone (as this one has). This is because the snobby part of me, you see, still thought that you simply had to take the time to read and understand entire dusty old books, and that the writing conditions for philosophy simply had to be more romantic (the starving lunatic/genius in a garret – the usual teenage-angsty bullshit).

In the present conditions, I am much more inclined to trust and celebrate the part of me that can’t afford to be this self-indulgent: the part that has to steal ten minutes to do the dishes and have a think sparked by whatever important stimuli are to hand.

It turns out that that old cliché is right: there are stimuli around us like this all the time, making gentle demands to be noticed. What I want to convey here, however, isn’t just the cliché. It’s also this: good and healthy habits and customs can be nurtured around these stimuli and their attendant acts of noticing.

In times as fraught and hyper-rational as these, such regimens and routines are what can keep us sane and together…. I will, for instance, be stealing ten minutes to do the dishes this evening. I am looking forward to it, and already have a notion of what I want think about: it concerns that magnet again, but doesn’t have to do with high-faluting philosophical ideas. What writing this (another such regimen) has made me recall, you see, is that my elder son used that magnet as a way of learning the name of my wife’s brother. My son would point to it, and make utterances; my wife and I would say back ‘yes, that’s David’; over time, the habit of saying ‘David’ was acquired and perfected. It is now a little anchor in my son’s life. To him, it is not a word with two syllables, not the name of a Hebrew King, and certainly not the first name of a famous Scottish philosopher; it is rather a bridge for making contact with an Uncle who loves and cares about him.

That’s what I’ll be thinking about when I do the dishes tonight: the story, not of ‘Ugly David’ the fridge magnet, but of my son and ‘Uncle David’.

The “World World Was Still?” LP by Kaddish is out now on Make That A Take + Black Lake Records.

CONROY’S BASEMENT; BOOKING – TERMS & CONDITIONS

***Reposted from makethatatakerecords.com***

As ye may well be aware, things have changed at Conroy’s Basement over the summer. We at Make That A Take have seized the means and are now in full control of the diary and the book. Evolution is part of our human experience, the only true constant being change. The previous “The Summer of Our Discontent” blog discusses these changes in greater detail, but we’re through the worst of the transition period now.

We thought it prudent to publish these terms and conditions, both in the interests of transparency and to have an online reference point. That MTAT formed in 2006 is no secret, but the pre-history of our collective stretches back well over twenty years. In the first instance, we were mentored by the folk music scene in rural Perthshire; Wedge took us into his practice room to watch his band rehearse. We learned by observation before being invited to play ourselves, by full immersion in the experience; learning by doing informed our principles and formed the foundations of our collective – ye do what ye can with what ye got. Ye can read all this back story stuff on Write Yer Ane Zine. We acknowledge our privilege; we were very lucky.

Collectively, we have spent most of our lives learning and growing, thousands of hours of labour; being in terrible bands, playing shows, touring, doing sound, hosting bands, booking tours, sleeping in vans, playing to nobody, being in decent bands, lending gear, building PA systems, badgering pals, losing money, making money, losing gear, being mugged, being banned, making friends, losing friends; making all the mistakes that it’s possible to make, like Sisyphus pushing the rock. We’re pulling for ALL artists, we want your band to rule. I want Goodbye Blue Monday to be bigger than Blink 182. If a lesson learned in Joey T can help our friends today, then it should be passed on. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it burned in six.

Basically what I’m saying is that these “rules” don’t exist because we’re assholes (we’re assholes for entirely separate reasons), these “rules” exist because we have lived and learned experience. We don’t claim to have all the answers, things ALWAYS work better in the spirit of collaboration, when a sense of shared purpose brings people together. We are living in times of desperate alienation, just today the local press has talked of another decade of austerity while millions are being made in the private sector. We believe that by working together to create a better space, we can begin to create a better world. Sure, a punk basement isn’t the world but it is a start. To quote Dom Kaddish, we “resolve to be socially responsible and just citizens in a time of spectres“.

While ye are here, there’s 20% off our 100+ release digital discography on our Bandcamp page and a summer sale happening over at BigCartel. Simple though it may be, the best way to support independent art of any kind is to buy it, share it, talk about it, TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS; come to shows, buy records, buy merch, get involved. You have so much more power than you know.

Together, we can conquer anything.

CONROY’S BASEMENT, DUNDEE – TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

Conroy’s Basement is an independent live music space operated by Make That A Take Records (MTAT). The venue space is available for hire by independent promoters, bands and collectives to promote live music. The venue space is also available to hire for club nights and special events.

MTAT aims to foster a positive environment free from all forms of discrimination. Anti-social behaviour will be not be tolerated. Please see the MTAT “House Rules” attached at the end of this document. MTAT reserves the right to refuse or cancel bookings. These terms and conditions will be updated periodically, as required.

Contact email; conroysbasement@gmail.com

 

Hire prices

 

Standard Gig booking fee; £100

– This covers venue/PA hire + sound engineer.

– We encourage all bookers to bring their own backline.

– Gear shares between bands are also encouraged.

– If this is not possible, some gear belonging to the collective may be available for a small fee (£25)

 

Standard Club Night booking fee; £150

– This covers venue/PA/security hire

– Club night hours are strictly 11pm-2.30am

– Club night hires are only available on Friday/Saturday, at this time

 

All bookings include access to the basement bar.

Deposit; bookings will be confirmed upon receipt of a £50 non-refundable deposit, payable by bank transfer or cash. Deposits are also payable by Paypal but are £55, to cover fees (sorry!).

The remaining balance must be paid in full before doors on the night of your booking.

Paypal address; makethatatakerecords@gmail.com

Friday and Saturday nights are by far and away the most popular and get booked up quickly, so please be aware that your desired date may not always be available.

No bookings will be confirmed until deposits are paid and terms and conditions agreed to.

We will do our very best to work with you to make your event as successful as possible. In the spirit of collaboration, we believe that in working together we can host the best possible events in a positive and safe environment. MTAT is an anti-bigotry, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic collective.

For more information pertaining MTAT policies and history, please read this FAQ.

 

 

The Venue

 

Conroy’s Basement is a venue conceived by artists for artists. It’s a basement space with a DIY-built PA system, constructed by two of the east coast’s finest sound engineers with decades of collective experience. We’ve been running this space for over three years, hosting over 300 shows in that time, and our system has evolved over time. It will continue to do so.

PA is a 2.5kw rig with 16-channel mixer.

It’s loud. Earplugs are recommended.

– Venue capacity is 100.

– No more than 100 tickets can be sold.

– There is no “green room”.

– There is no allocated seating.

– There is parking around the back of the building

– Load in the side entrance of the building

– Gear must be stored in the corner to stage-right

– Gear cannot be stored in the venue over night

– We have no Wi-Fi

– There is a bar serving drinks.

– Strictly no drinks outside.

– Do not bring your own drinks (refillable water bottles excepted)

– We will provide all mics stands, mics, PA cables, etc.

 

 

Gig itinerary

Load in – 5pm onwards.

Soundcheck – 5pm-7pm

Doors open – 7pm/7.30pm

Sunday-Thursday must be finished by 10.30pm.

ALL gear and humans loaded out by 11pm.

Friday/Saturday shows must finished by 11.30pm at the absolute latest.

ALL gear/humans out by midnight. There will be no exceptions.

Your show will be assigned a representative from the MTAT collective and a sound engineer.

Access to the venue is available from 5pm. In exceptional circumstances, please advise of any requirements outside these hours at least two weeks in advance.

Club Nights; 11pm-2.30am

– DJs must provide their own equipment (vinyl/CD decks, laptop, etc).

– A MTAT representative will be present for load-in/set-up

PLEASE NOTE: If you are organizing a gig with more than 3 acts please let us know in advance.

 

 

Your Responsibilities

 

Promotion; it is your responsibility to promote the show.

– A Facebook event page alone does not count as gig promotion.

– Please make Conroy’s Basement a co-host on any event page that you make.

– Please make sure we have POSTERS for your show at the venue at least FOUR WEEKS prior.

– Please email all online promotional materials to Conroy’s Basement.

– We will include your event in all of Conroy’s Basement’s gig listings

– It is your responsibility to sell tickets for your events. We recommend Groucho’s Music in Dundee.

 

In advance; knowledge is power!

– Please provide full-tech spec and running order, including set times.

– Please make sure that FULL BACKLINE arrangements have been made.

– It is your responsibility to fulfill any/all contractual obligations to artists booked

– You must let us know of any RIDERS that may need be brought in. These are your responsibility.

– Any ALCOHOL on riders must be stored in the fridge behind the bar. Drinks tickets will then be allocated which can then be exchanged for rider drinks from the bar. There can be no exceptions.

– It is the responsibility of the promoter to provide all riders and information pertaining them.

– We have no cooking/re-heating facilities at this time.

– Let us know if there are any problems we can help resolve.

 

On the night; it is your responsibility to run the show.

– Booking fees must be paid in full before doors open. If this is a problem, please advise.

– You must provide your own door person to take tickets/entry. We will provide a £50 float.

– It is your responsibility to make sure all artists are informed of venue rules/set times/etc.

– You must provide your sound engineer with set times.

– Headline bands will soundcheck first. Opening bands will then set up. Line-checks for others.

– It is your responsibility to pay acts.

– Anyone found bringing in their own alcohol will be asked to leave and banned.

– Drinks in the venue are cheap.

– Loading out must be completed by the agreed times. No gear can be stored in the venue.

 

 

The MTAT collective was established in 2006 and we’ve been involved in thousands of shows and events since then. Run by punks for punks, we’ve been involved in the musical community for over twenty years and aim to foster an atmosphere of positivity, inclusion and collaboration.

We aim to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and would hope for the same in return. We are more than happy to discuss any issues or concerns that anyone may have about the operation of the space. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any and all questions/enquiries.

Be radical, spread joy.

– MTAT

http://www.makethatatakerecords.com

In Praise of Carson Wells

Allow me to document that our friends in Carson Wells played an absolute belter of a set last Friday in Conroy’s Basement, Dundee (21.09.18). They played all of their new LP, “No Relic”, plus four of the most banging tracks from their 2015 album, “Tread a Northern Path”. What made this even more impressive was the fact that Carson Wells haven’t had much time to practise together recently. This did not get in the way. Instead, they just got on with the job: they played a flawless set, which they somehow made look effortless while simultaneously cranking the intensity.

This set – likely Carson Wells’s last ever – impressed how excellent their new LP is on me, and, I have to confess, reminded me how incredible their older songs are. At the time, it left me with no choice but to take myself off into a corner, let my hair down, and mosh my head off. I usually only do this at home these days, sometimes in the company of my two-year-old. But Carson Wells made me do it in public. And they are also, unknown to themselves, making me do this: sit and type up a little account of what their very special band has meant, and will to continue to mean, to me.

To put these comments in context, I should note that I’ve started to keep a mental list lately. If converted to paper, it might read: ‘why playing in a band is a good and beautiful thing’. Working on this list does not mean I’ve ever seriously doubted this matter. It means that I’m preparing for a future encounter with a truly horrible individual: the kind of person who thinks that playing in a band can only be a waste of time, and who expects a balance sheet of reasons to the contrary.

I’d start with reasons that would speak directly to this imaginary nemesis: playing music changes the plasticity of your brain and nervous system in very productive ways, etc. After this, I’d try a different set of reasons: music is an expressive art as opposed to a representative or mimetic one that is limited to clichés, etc. These, however, would quickly look like very pretentious reasons. So I’d try another set of plainer ones: there is nothing like the experience of ‘clicking’ as a band when trying to work through a dynamic bit, and there is nothing like trying to hold a tricky bit together, and actually managing it, etc. Ultimately, I’d end up with a version of what Ross from Carson Wells articulated beautifully on Friday: playing in a band is a nice way of staying friends and making friends.

I was informed by Iain at the gig that Carson Wells and Kaddish have played 21 shows together. That incorporates over a decade, split releases, three albums apiece, and shows together in a couple of countries (sorry we didn’t make it further afield). It was an incredible privilege to watch their band evolve over that time. From raw young guys we spoke to one evening outside the Balcony bar in Dundee, to hulking beasts of rock.

In saying this, I might seem gushing or patronising. That’s a risk I’m willing to take to get the main point across: Carson Wells are, it seems to me, a band who emphatically showed their reasons for being a band.

On the point on friendship, for instance, I can point to very specific things. From Huw (among others), I learned over time to try to temper my vocal raging. How successful I’ve been in this is another matter, so let me also note that I once witnessed Huw produce an act of devastating athleticism: a strike in a game of ten-pin bowling that left the entire lane shaking. From Ross, I learned to tone down the ‘attack’ of my guitar playing. This was an invaluable lesson for me, because my hand often cramps badly. These days, when it does, I can genuinely say that I think ‘slow down, what would Ross McClay do here?’ This leads me to Iain, and the discussion of a very interesting paradox. This occurred either on the way to a gig in Nottingham, or on the way out of Nottingham, after the gig, just after we spotted a sign for Sherwood Forest. The paradox was this: ‘if Robin Hood did not really exist, then he exists now in the same way that he has always done’.

Depending on how you are inclined to resolve this paradox, Carson Wells may themselves be a bit like Robin Hood: they owe their name to a character in a work of fiction. In another crucial respect, however, they are completely unalike: to me and many of my closest friends, it really does matter that Carson Wells existed. Unlike Robin Hood, they are not some obscure eternal object – they, like all bands, were a finite one, coming from somewhere, trying to show their reasons for being one with every gig they played. In their case, this was pulled off with ever increasing intensity and success.

This has been a short letter to friends. It has not been intended to be an exclusive one, and there are host of other folk I’d be inspired to write something similar for in similar circumstances (Deeker, Owen, Ross…). It’s just that Carson Wells have, by going on indefinite hiatus, gone the way of legend (this time a bit like Robin Hood again). To be honest Huw, Ross and Iain, it would have been enough to have made friends with you, but when your band turned out to be incredible, well that was something very special indeed.

Over and out.

By Dom Kaddish, 23/09/2018

 

Thank you and godspeed, friends.

On The Boat

TRIGGER WARNING; HEFTYREALTALK.

I shared this story from The National about rise in Scottish suicide numbers on FB this morning. In light of this post pertaining suicide awareness, I’ve been ruminating on my own position on the matter and my own wellness. As such, I feel compelled to share this in the hope that someone, anybody, will glean some hope from it and realise they are not alone. If one person can benefit, then that’s a victory. If it helps me slay some demons, that’s a little victory too.


I was one step from suicide this summer. I have been in what I call “low-hum reverberation” since. Immediately following the trauma of break-up, I went out on tour with Chris Snelgrove, who I’d previously met for about half an hour at BYAF X. Playing music is always the best medicine; “motion is the cure for grief”. Uniforms flew to America the day after Mick’s funeral, so this kind of thing is nothing new, but that’s another story. 

As we were on the boat back from a beautiful time in Ireland (I can never thank Billy Woods enough), I went to the sun deck to meditate in the glorious sunshine. I couldn’t settle and soon began to fidget, my mood dropping quickly through the floor. I pace when I’m anxious and caught myself doing so. I also noticed that the top deck was totally clear of people. In that moment, I felt a rare pristine calm as I walked to the side of the boat; one step and everything disappears. 

Somehow, the words “Dinnae. Go downstairs” came out my mouth. I turned towards the cabin and took the stairs, not stopping until I was beside the life-raft on the side, a safe distance from the edge. I pulled my phone out and had a message from Lisette; a video of Elise eating hummus for the first time. My calm shattered, tears flowed. I didn’t give a fuck who saw me. 

I went to the bathroom and messaged the original Uniforms group chat; we’ve been through the goddamn wars. Though I was calm now, I had to tell someone. I sat there for about half an hour, procrastinating, wondering if it was all a nonsense or I was just being a “pussy”. I didn’t want to tell Chris but he knew I was bullshitting. 

We got off the boat and were met by Kevin. I must’ve looked like I’d seen a ghost but it wasn’t until we stopped at Girvan for coffee that I spoke about it. The walls came crashing down, like they did at Stonehaven with Gordon the week before. We then went to Ayr for dinner with friends before playing the show and driving home. I haven’t mentioned it publicly until now. 

I’m grateful for the experience. I’m heavy trained in crisis management and I am all too well-versed in pulling on the mask. I try to tell those that I love just how much I love them and describe the depth of my gratitude, but I fall short of my ideals in most ways every day. I’d like to think my intent is pure. 

As a recovering alcoholic, I try to listen empathically. I recoil at the thought of being any kind of “preacher”, as I can only speak of my own experiences (see; THT – “No Advice”), but I don’t want any more dead friends. I need to learn to accept love. 

My depression isn’t new. Some would argue that it isn’t real at all and even sometimes I think it’s bullshit, but I try to accept reality as it presents itself. My immediate reality at one point this summer was being a dead friend. In the worst moment, I found reasons to stay alive. 

I’ve never been more grateful to be sober, am experiencing what I believe to be the full spectrum of emotions for the first time since my teens, and now actually believe that “happiness” is possible, no matter how fleetingly. 

Shit will get better, shit will get worse, but all shit will pass. Then we’ll die anyways, but we can live before we do, even if at times we are still on the boat. 

You are not alone.

PMX – EU Tour Report (May 2017)

YO.

Things have been pretty quiet on this here blog recently. This isn’t for lack of anything to say or thoughts to impart, quite the opposite in fact, but things have been somewhat the grind. This isn’t a complaint but in getting shit done there is little time leftover for personal reflection, let alone pissing in the ocean of spacejunk that is the internet. I fail, of course.

All that said, there’s been HUNNERS of shit going on, including the troops in PMX tearing it up across Europe for the second time already this year. As such, I asked Matt to throw together a little tour diary about their travels.

How do?

Derrick asked me to write a few things down about our recent tour of Europe so here goes!

Fifteen days on the road. Hitting up six countries for shows whilst passing through ten. A total of 4700 miles. It’s nice to be back in the land of three prong plugs, driving on the left hand side of the road and proper toilet seats but I’d jump in the van and head off again today in a heartbeat.

Anyone that has been on tour will know the excitement and trepidation that comes with setting foot in the van on day one. The knowledge that when you leave it again on the final day you will be broken, dirty and exhausted. If you make it to the final day and you are none of these things then you are not fucking doing it right!

We left on my 34th birthday which was a pretty cool way to both celebrate that milestone and kick off two weeks of gigging and debauchery! I was hungover from our show the night before in Edinburgh so the day seemed to pass reasonably quickly. 9 hours on the road later and we were boarding the Dover to Dunkirk ferry where several pints were welcomed with open arms.

Being on tour does seem like it’s a lot of fun and although it is, I don’t think it’s as romantic as it seems to anyone who has not done it before. The daily routine is as follows;

  • You wake up early (usually hungover) in a strange place trying to piece together the previous nights goings on.
  • You jump in the van and plan your route to the next town. Some days this can take as little as 3 hours, some days it can take 16.
  • You hunt out a service station or supermarket to stock up on supplies if need be. Now if, like me, you have special dietary requirements, this can be a challenge. Luckily enough I stocked up on noodles, soya milk and 9bars before we left so was able to suck it up when the closest thing to a vegan sandwich was a BLT!
  • You arrive at the venue, usually several hours before you have to play, in order to load in your gear and sound check.
  • You sit around in the venue drinking the free beer and eating the free food (which again due to my aforementioned dietary requirements can be hit or miss).
  • You play. Always the best bit of the day. If you don’t enjoy that part then what the fuck are you doing on tour!?!
  • You pack up all your gear into the van again with Tetris-like precision. Of course, by this point you are usually soaked through with sweat and somewhat inebriated.
  • You head off to your designated sleeping spot, whether it’s someone’s floor, a hostel, a practice room floor, a shipping container or just in the venue itself.
  • Repeat daily.
  • For 2 weeks.

There might be a chance to see some other cool shit whether it be touristy or not but in general that’s about it. So now you have a better understanding of ‘tour life’ or at least as how I see it, I am not gonna bore you with the finer details of every day, every drive and every venue. Instead I’m just gonna list a bunch of stuff that I thought was fucking cool.

  • Driving through the Alps is cool as fuck! Your not gonna see as beautiful scenery as that every day of the week. Just don’t stop for food or drink, you need a bank loan.
  • Slovenia is a rad country. Everyone there is super nice and it is real beautiful. We washed in a river one day and it was proper cold but unforgettably cool at the same time. When I say cold I mean painfully cold. I’m gonna fucking die cold. Colder than witches tit as they say.
  • Italy is a fuckover for tolls, kinda like France. Other than that, we played three shows that were all awesome. Every single person we met there was friendlier than the last and they couldn’t do enough for us. If I get the chance I will head back to both Livorno and Remini for a holiday again.
  • I’ve always liked Germany. I went there a few times in my youth and remember everyone being real nice and the place itself being pretty sweet. I can now report that nothing’s really changed. We went and saw a giant hole in the ground that was home to the world’s biggest moving machine. I have seen it before but it still managed to get my geekier side moist again!
  • The Netherlands and Belgium were once again great fun. Got compared to Belvedere who had played the venue we played in Naaldwijk, NL a good 15 years earlier. Nice to know we keep our music current and relevant haha!
  • Some cool bands to check out that we met along the way are Tear Them Down from Sweden, The Peterlees from The Netherlands, Bare Teeth from France, Start At Zero from Slovenia, Struggling For Reason from Belgium, United And Strong from Germany, Deadends from Austria and Danger Jerk from Germany.

There was probably a bunch of other stuff that I thought was cool but it’s either just stupid shit that no one else would ever find cool or I was too drunk/hungover to remember it. It could equally be a fine combination of both!

Anyways, I hope I didn’t bore the tits off you or you are sitting there thinking “what a wanker!”. Being on tour to me is just like a holiday. A free all-inclusive holiday with my best mates. And I hate hearing folk going on about their holiday when they get back!

We’ve got a few more shows lined up here and there in the coming months but we will be mainly concentrating on writing and recording a new record between now and my wedding in August. Aim is to have it out before the end of the year and get touring again as much as possible next year. I will endeavour to produce an equally shite blog post for you when that comes around if you so desire!

Peace and Fucking. Believe.

Matt xXx

PMX are back in Dundee on Friday 26th May with the troops in Get It Together plus MTAT first-timers Hopes Up High (new school pop-punk/hxc from Arbroath) and Us Versus Them (teeth-rattling old school hxc from Fife). Should be a suitably radge hardcore punk tear up of a Friday night.

If ye don’t have a copy of the “Dark Days” EP, remedy that in short order. It’s moich.

Be radical, spread joy.

 

2016; My Favourite Records of the Year

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2016 was an incredible year for music. Anyone who says otherwise is either ill-informed or just plain ignorant. The same could be said of those who constantly bemoan the “death of the album”. Yes, while the mainstream may be consuming music in an ever more disposable fashion, the case has always been thus and when have we cared about what’s happening there anyways?

Records and albums never died or went anywhere, for those who’ve always bought music and supported the artists they enjoy, there is no “vinyl revival”, just a lot of over-expensive major label re-releases and longer waiting times at pressing plants. I could bang on about this shit at length but shall refrain from doing so in an effort to maintain the positive nature of this piece, which is to talk about my favourite records of the year.

I should establish some ground rules here; I’m going to talk about my favourite records of the year that I own in its physical format, thus disqualifying digital exclusives/streams and the like. So yeah, we’re talking physical vinyl records of all kinds here, not exclusively albums. The list will be alphabetical as opposed to ranked by preference. I think it’d also be imprudent to include any of the MTAT releases this year, although it goes without saying that I love them all, as that is pretty much the entire condition of whether we put something out or not.

That said, “Held In Merciful Light” by Clearer The Sky is a stunning record and one I’ve spent a lot of time with. Also, “ScreamerSongwriter” by Stoj Snak is just next level incredible; a folk punk record that transcends the genre’s often limiting boundaries, creating a kind of “stadium folk punk” sound as I described it to someone at the indie label market in Aberdeen earlier this year. Ye can check out MTAT 2016; A Year in Review here.

AJJ – “The Bible 2” LP (Side One Dummy)

America’s greatest living rock band have produced what I believe to be their masterwork with “The Bible 2”. Everything about this record speaks to me of the contemporary frustrated American experience as we transition into times of heightened political violence and paranoia. I have long admired Sean Bonnette as a lyricist and songwriter and truly believe that, great as “Christmas Island” was, this is his greatest work yet. Everyone should listen to this record.

Anxiety – S/T LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)

I’d read about these Glasgow punks a fair bit before I finally got a chance to see them play at the last Clocked Out show at Nice N Sleazy earlier this year and I was blown away, their intensity matched only be the uncontrollable rage that is Crawford and the troops. This eight track mini-LP is absolutely incredible; a convulsing nightmare-ish soundscape like Joy Division/Dead Kennedys/Butthole Surfers self-abusing in an anarcho punk squat. A thrilling, unsettling and unnerving experience, tremendous.

Boak – II 7″ (SuperFi Records / GrindPromotion)

I fucking love Boak and their set in The Firefly at BYAF X just absolutely stripped the paint from my face. This second seven inch (I got a blue one) manages to take everything that was awesome about the first one; the precision, intensity, rage; and hone it to even sharper perfection with four nuclear blasts of intelligent and articulate grindcore/powerviolence. I must’ve played this record fifty times over before something knocked it off the turntable. Absolutely essential, truly one of Scotland’s greatest bands.

The Cut Ups – “The Nerves” LP (Banquet Records)

Jon Shoe is one of my favourite people in punk rock and I’ve been a huge fan of The Cut Ups for over a decade now, so it’s no great surprise that their fourth record makes my list. “The Nerves” is arguably their most politically focussed album yet, a rallying cry reflected in the loving gravelly embrace of their finest collection of songs to date. Driving and anthemic, featuring keys from Franz Nicolay, this is The Cut Ups at their determined best. “Stay Obscure” may be closing track of the year too, tugged away on the old heartstrings. This record is a beacon of hope in an ever-expanding shit-storm of misery, isolation and exasperation; a reassuring cuddle from an old friend.

Dead To Me – “I Wanna Die In Los Angeles” 7″ (Fat Wreck)

Besides simply being an awesome collection of three songs on a seven inch, I feel this is an important record in a few different ways. Purely musically, this is solid Dead To Me gold (there was a gold pressing, I have the black) and we’ve waited eight years for new songs featuring both Jack Dalrymple and Chicken, but more importantly, this is a record that may have just saved a life. Alcohol and drug addiction is something people in the punk scene seem reluctant to talk about at times, despite the fact that it’s killed so many of our friends, in both punk and wider society. This record is about hitting rock bottom and recovery, with “Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable” being one of the most beautiful articulations of recovery I’ve ever identified with, in so many different ways. This 7″ also directly inspired me to start Sober Punks Supper Club. Thank you Dead To Me, stay strong troops.

Descendents – “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” (Epitaph)

Descendents are a band that I’ve loved for almost twenty years so there’s no way I wasn’t going to be stoked about their new record. Ever the pessimist, however, I didn’t have sky-high hopes but am thankful to be proven wrong as I think this is definitely up there amongst their strongest work, streets ahead of “Cool To Be You”, which itself contained some bangers. There ain’t a huge number of older punk bands who’ve released new records that rivals that of their back catalogue this year but this one is up there in my book. As for the controversy surrounding the title, I don’t think it’s a great title but listen to the fucking record and the picture will become a little clearer I’d hope.

Fall Of Messiah – “Empty Colors” 12″ EP (Holy Roar / I.Corrupt.Records)

Utterly stunning, expansive and harrowing yet serene post-rock/screamo from France. I was lucky enough that Shitgripper played with these troops in Edinburgh in April of this year and I was completely blown away by their dynamics, intensity and power. Largely instrumental but with infrequent intense outbursts of screaming, this EP is a deep weaved texture of math-rock meets brooding hardcore intensity. One of the records I found myself coming back to again and again over the year, finding more to love in it with every listen.

The Hotelier – “Goodness” LP (Tiny Engines)

This is probably overall my favourite record of the year and definitely the album I’ve listened to most in 2016, at least once a day since I put the download on my phone. I connect viscerally and emotionally with The Hotelier in a way that I don’t with the vast majority of modern emo/pop punk bands, in ways that I can’t fully explain, but this record is a testament to what I understand to be their experimental progressive worldview, like therapy expressed through poetry. The aforementioned who mourn the death of the album would do well to listen to the narrative of this record, each song a chapter. Their show in the church at Restless Natives Fest was as close I’ve come to religious observance this year, truly spellbinding stuff.

Hot Mass – “Nervous Tension” LP (Brassneck Records)

Glorious squally and noisy heads-down punk rock’n’roll goodness from these well-traveled punks from Swansea who blasted out their first full-length and reminded me of everything that is awesome about straight up UK DIY punk rock. These dudes have been in the game for a long time, in essential Welsh bands like Dividers and The Arteries, and this record exemplifies the lessons learned and lives shaped by those experiences. I grabbed this record from Jenks when they opened for The Menzingers earlier this year and I very much hope we’ll have them in the basement at some point in the new year. Great stuff, super smart coke-bottle clear vinyl too.

Medictation – “Warm Places” LP (Little Rocket)

With such pedigree, this record was always going to be something special but considering the fact that this is the final recorded work of the legendary Dickie Hammond, this album takes on an extra layer of emotional weight. Featuring members of Leatherface and The Sainte Catherines, “Warm Places” was always going to be a great punk album but knowing that Dickie is gone, his presence is felt with greater gravity, his loss with extra depth. When Dickie takes on the vocal for “Stalingrad”, it’s a difficult listen as he sings about having no hope left and drinking to oblivion, especially knowing the circumstances under which he died. It’s a testament to the greatness and fragility of the man himself and the friendship of his band mates and extended family that this record serves as fitting epitaph. The release was a labour of love from Little Rocket Records, a label formed specifically to release this LP. A beautiful, moving monument.

Muncie Girls – “From Caplan To Belsize” LP (Specialist Subject)

This Exeter three piece have absolutely knocked it out the park with their first full-length LP on Specialist Subject Records. With a title taken from Sylvia Plath, there are few ambiguities pertaining the feminist politics of this record, serving as an indictment of our current cultural situation. This is no mere soapbox politics, however; this record talks of basic human decency and action in times where many people lack these things. Indeed, it was in reference to this record, specifically the “Respect” video, that I had one of my more interesting interactions of the year with the “alt-right”. Without putting too fine a point on it, fuck that shit, this is an important and, sadly, required record, on top of being a mighty fine melodic rock/pop punk banger in and of itself.

The Murderburgers – “The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People” (Asian Man / Round Dog Records)

Once again raising the bar for Scottish punk rock, Fraser Murderburger has crafted his greatest piece of work to date and created what is undoubtedly one of the finest UK pop punk records ever released. Fraser and I have been friends for a long time now and I know exactly how much this record, and indeed the band, means to him. I couldn’t be more proud to see this record getting the love it so richly deserves. Progressing far beyond the bubblegum Ramonescore template of yore, this fourth LP sharpens the knives for a thrilling narrative ride of lacerating self-analysis with cinematic sound and minor chords tucked in amongst the hooks and sing-a-long choruses. While perhaps less immediate than previous work, the cuts are far deeper and this record fulfills the promises made on “These Are Only Problems”, is a more cohesive piece of work and their absolute best yet. Proud of you, pal.

Pears – “Green Star” (Fat Wreck)

This record is just a straight-up hardcore punk rock juggernaut from front to back, a relentless storm of energy and aggression laden with insidious hooks, a fuck-you-fight-me southern charm and a refreshing blast of punk rock noise that looks forward rather than wallowing I n nostalgia, as punk is often inclined to do. For me, Pears absolutely blew Bouncing Souls off the stage when they played at Stereo in Glasgow earlier this year, one of the most energetic and engaging shows I’ve seen on a bigger stage in some time. Super nice dudes too, although twenty quid for an LP is taking the piss a little I’d suggest (no slight on the band, I know how these things go). One of my favourite Fat Wreck releases in recent years.

Sheer Mag – III 7″ EP (Static Shock)

I confess I had never listened to Sheer Mag before this year but once I did so, I immediately ordered all three EPs from Static Shock Records. This band are fucking great, a classic soul-powered rock’n’roll band that transcends time and genre classification, political without being divisive and subversive without being alienating. Plus, most importantly, just plain fucking rocking, like The Bellrays/Thin Lizzy/Dirtbombs, these are some of the catchiest, most perfectly written rock songs you’re ever likely to hear. Few bands this year have got me as hyped up and hooked as Sheer Mag.

Wonk Unit – “Mr. Splashy” LP (TNS)

If the AJJ LP is the soundtrack of the death of the American Dream, then it logically follows to my mind that “Mr. Splashy” is the sound of dystopian London, and by extension the United Kingdom, in full collapse. Wonk Unit may be the premier clown princes of UK punk rock, but don’t let the black humour and abundant laughter fool you, there is deep intelligence and political anger contained within the poetry, art and channeled chaos that follows the Wonk family. “Mr. Splashy” is an engaging tale that follows a narrative story arc through the increasing bitterness of British life in which we are both increasingly lumped together (as “lefties”, as “punks”, as “radicals”, whatever the case may be) and further isolation from one another. When we look back in twenty years time, this will be one of the records we reflect upon when considering the state of UK punk in 2016. I was lucky enough to score one of the one hundred green copies too!

So there we go, there are my fifteen favourite records of the year. There have been loads of other great records released this year and I want to shout out Revenge of the Psychotronic Man, The Bennies, Kamikaze Girls, Womps, Departures, Pale Angels, G.L.O.S.S and Direct Hit! and Human Hands, all of whom released top quality records this year, plus the Asthenia/Akallabeth split 7″ that absolutely tore my face off (the Asthenia show was probably, at a push, my favourite MTAT show of the year too).

Can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2017, plus we’ll finally get the long-awaited Tragical History Tour LP. Bring it on!

 

 

 

REFLECTIONS; Time, Growth, Evolution and Redefinition.

As alluded to in the zine, it’s impossible for me to discuss Book Yer Ane Fest from any real perspective other than my own. I’m far too closely involved to be truly objective, try as I might, and in the ten years we’ve been doing this label, I’ve learned to accept and understand that there are things over which I have no control. Book Yer Ane Fest seems to mean many different things to many different people, all with their own unique experiences, worlds within worlds. This is a truly beautiful thing.

Book Yer Ane Fest X last weekend was remarkable in many, many ways and even a week later I’m still struggling to fully digest it all. Thoughts and memories come back at me in waves, out of nowhere, and I remember fragments of conversations that I had with people who I see all too seldom. I’ll admit to being pretty nervous about the whole thing, especially in lieu of the the takeover of Buskers and all the fallout from that, and the weight of my own anxiety about hitting the ten year milestone. It’s no trade secret that I was considering that perhaps this year may be the last Book Yer Ane Fest.

Nostalgia unnerves me and life has changed so much since 2006, not just for me but for everyone I know, our entire culture and society. This is the only way it can possibly be, everything is impermanent. However, the older and more experienced I become, the more I value reflection and taking stock as important, not to wallow in perceived past glories and accomplishments but to remember exactly why it is you do what you do in the first place, to give thanks for the path that you’ve traveled and those who’ve supported you along the way. Does the flame of mid-thirties burn as bright as the flame of youth?

Ten years of supporting Safe-Tay, ten years of cowpunk and ten Book Yer Ane Fests seems like the perfect narrative ending; to round things out at a tidy decade and call it job done. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t appeal to part of me, mostly my nihilistic streak, and it is something that I wrestle with. No doubt there’s plenty of ego bullshit in there too. Going into this year, I didn’t know where my own head was at in this regard and didn’t have any answers, in the greatest MTAT tradition of the best plan being no plan at all, which you can never plan for. Sometimes it takes someone to ask the question before you know the answer.

It has been an honour to support Safe-Tay and the causes they support over these last ten years and we thank them for their vital work as they wind up operations, leaving behind an important and impressive legacy of safety education and awareness-raising. I had a conversation ten minutes before my Tragical History Tour set on Sunday evening that floored me and in that moment I knew that what we do is greater than me or any one individual, that we are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves. This was reaffirmed in the conversations I had with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years and some whom I was meeting for the very first time. I felt it when I played, punk rock my meditative space.

It’s a long weekend for everyone involved and I did all eleven shows across the five days including playing three times, getting home at 3am on Tuesday after dropping Josh at the airport, then going straight back to work until yesterday. I’m still exhausted and only now is the comedown fully kicking in. Having the opportunity to play with Uniforms one last time before the birth of Matthew Fraser McGinty was a privilege and playing with Joey T again was just indescribable. Ben is my oldest friend, Gain and I have been in this since day one and being in that band was an education like no other. It was like slipping back into the mask and pulling a Springboard Frankendeeker; a total Wrestlemania moment for me.

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Photo by Bev at Hold My Pint Photography. http://www.facebook.com/holdmypintphotography/

I would like to personally thank each and every person that participated in making Book Yer Ane Fest X a success. It was undoubtedly our most ambitious attempt yet and it would not have been possible without the herculean efforts of so many people. Thank you so much to all of the amazing acts who performed over the weekend and every single person who came from all over the world to enjoy them and participate in the festival; to all the BYAF Crew and extended MTAT family and volunteers who opened up their homes and hearts for the weekend, helped with sound, manned the merch booths, ran errands, loaded/loaned gear, cooked food, provided physical and emotional support, we can’t thank you enough. You are all amazing humans.

Much love and thanks to Roseanne, Dave and all the staff at The Firefly Dundee, including Mark for his tireless work with sound and chefs Alex and Sean for going above and beyond the call of duty; Lee and Simon of the excellent sound crew at Buskers for their indefatigable graft over the weekend to support us and Buskers and for allowing us use of the space; all at Bloc+, Conroy’s Basement, Groucho’s and The Banshee Labyrinth; Dundee Music Studios for providing us with backline for the weekend; Rainbow Music for their continued support and endless patience; Mitch and all the crew at Audiowave, all at Sanctuary Tattoo Dundee for Book Yer Ane Flash and all the punks who got BYAF tattoos (pics plz!); Catholic Guilt, No One Knows Records, Black Lake Records, Umlaut Records, TNSrecords, Round Dog Records, Anti-Manifesto and everyone who donated prizes to the tombola; Hold My Pint Photography; GGM Photography; Adam Morrow for all the help with the A Fat Wreck screening; Urban Print; IDIOTEQ.com, Punktastic, TheCourier.co.uk and everyone who covered BYAF in the press and to anyone we may have forgotten; thank you!

We haven’t yet got our final total as we’re having a merch sale and will donate 100% of proceeds from the leftover “Still Joey Terrifying” shirts and the “Complete Collection” CD sales for December to the BYAF total to be donated to Insight Counselling, Tayside Mountain Rescue and The Royal Life Saving Society. Here’s hoping we can beat last year’s total. Check out my friend Graham’s awesome playlist of live videos too, think he’s got most bands from across the weekend. While there may be a few (mostly personal) dissatisfactions from the weekend, there’s no point in belabouring issues, perpetuating beef or throwing people under a bus, and all parties already know the score anyways, so that’s all the vague details I’ll go into. In the finest Paul Heyman tradition, if booked right nobody’d ever know, right? If we don’t learn, we don’t evolve and if we don’t evolve, we stagnate and die.

As with everything, Book Yer Ane Fest must evolve and MTAT along with it. As we embark upon our second decade as a collective and in the current cultural climate, I believe that the DIY punk rock community is of greater importance than ever before. I believe we are at a pivotal point in our evolution, Brexit and Trump the latest twisted manifestations of globalised nuclear capitalism and the echo chamber. We now live in a world where simply being “anti” is not nearly enough, where words and information are weapons. It is what we DO that it is important, beyond rhetoric.

It’s good to engage in discourse, to be challenged, and accept valid constructive criticism and advice; to develop reflective practice, if you will. We will always be an anti-sexist, anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic collective, but how can we grow beyond defining ourselves by what we are not in a world of perpetual change and unprecedented evolution? If we define ourselves in negative terms, it logically follows that generating positivity becomes a greater struggle. The world will beat you down and “other” you, we need not unnecessarily “other” ourselves.

As such, for the first time, I have redefined our “mission statement”;

We are a progressive secular DIY punk collective and independent record label based on the east coast of Scotland. We aim to contribute positively to our community and believe in the equality of and equity for all humans regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, class, status or any other perceived identifier.

Our collective/label formed at a house party show in 2006 and has evolved over the last decade into something we never anticipated. We are very grateful for the increased level of interest we’ve been receiving recently and are very excited about the possibilities that the future may hold.

We have a fairly wide understanding of what constitutes “punk”.

For all MTAT enquiries, please email info@makethatatakerecords.com

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The answer to the question is yes, there will be a Book Yer Ane Fest XI. Where it will be and what form it will take remains to be seen but things will continue to evolve as they’ve always done. Thank you to all involved, for everything.

The job ain’t fucking done yet.

 

On Dialogue; Bloc and Trans Punks

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I don’t really want to be writing this post but feel I have to. Without retreading well-worn ground, MTAT and myself as an individual are very concerned about the incident, statements and subsequent fall-out pertaining the misgendering of a trans person in relation to bathroom usage at Bloc a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve been reluctant to post anything online in an “official” capacity, although must admit that I did share Chris’s (Bloc venue manager) statement on my FB page. The discussions which followed were illuminating and reinforced my feeling that there must be an open and honest dialogue about things, to use this as an opportunity for learning, less we descend into binary tribalism.

I have been in discussion with friends from the trans community, the PR staff and in-house promoters at Bloc, fellow promoters in the DIY punk scene and many others with a vested emotional interest. I believe that the only way we can move forward in a positive fashion is through dialogue, discourse and showing respect. I have spoken with Bloc and have been assured that there will be a staff training day run by the Scottish Transgender Alliance on September 29th. They are also keen to organise a meeting with the trans punks, promoters and those affected by the situation. I am grateful to all involved for their willingness to discuss the situation.

On a personal level, I’d suggest that we could all benefit from being a little more reflective and mindful of how our behaviour, acts and words can impact others.

In the interest of transparency, this is the email I sent to Bloc (with names removed);

  • I just wanted to get in touch to discuss the issues that have been raised since the unfortunate bathroom incident at Bloc last weekend. I have spoken at length with *in-house promoter* and various friends and allies within the trans community and feel that it would be inappropriate of me not to voice the concerns I’ve been feeling. MTAT have always been allies of the trans community and of Bloc. Not for one second do I believe that Bloc harbours a transphobic ideology, however, I do feel that the statement issued by *Bloc* was somewhat ill-judged, especially given the current social climate. Now, while I absolutely do feel there is merit in some of the ideas expressed within said statement (the idea of the “regressive left”, “the mob”, etc), I don’t believe that this was the time or place to express these ideas. Had the statement ended after the apology and details pertaining how Bloc was going to use the experience to further develop learning, then I don’t think there would have been nearly the fallout there has been. However, the emotive rant which constituted the lion’s share of the statement was unnecessarily divisive and really didn’t contribute positively to an already messy situation. My concerns are not merely passive; MTAT is involved in two upcoming shows at Bloc, the Scottish Indie Sampler launch night next month and the pre-Book Yer Ane Fest show on Thursday 1st December. I feel that we have a responsibility to both the trans community and Bloc to engage with this issue, rather than adopt the ostrich approach. I feel it is always better to engage in discourse so as to create greater understanding and dialogue than it is to fall into the binaries of “us vs them” or “good guys and bad guys”. MTAT has no intention of boycotting Bloc or withdrawing, but I do feel that it would be an abdication of responsibility if we were to leave these issues completely unaddressed. *In-house promoter* assured me that Bloc will be meeting with representatives from the Scottish Transgender Alliance later this month and I’d be very keen to know how that meeting pans out. Being a “big picture thinker”, I think there is a middle way here. I don’t think anyone has come out of this situation well, from “the mob” to Bloc, but we must be mindful of the fact that violence against transgender people, especially in regards to bathroom usage, is a very real life issue and should not be dismissed as simply an error. I just wanted to clue you in to my thinking as it is inevitable that questions will be asked when MTAT appears on the posters for the launch show and I have to act to protect the best interests of MTAT, just as Bloc do. As such, I shall be writing a statement outlining our position that echoes what I’ve said here.I believe that with open minds and hearts we can all engage in progressive discourse and use this as a learning experience for the betterment of all. Apologies for the long, somewhat rambling email, but I thought it prudent to clue you in on my thought process, so not to come flying out of left-field and add fuel to an already burning inferno of online noise.

    Thanks a lot, Derrick Johnston (MTAT)

As it stands, this is all a fluid situation, for which providing a running commentary has little benefit. However, I feel as though my hand has been forced as the launch night for the Scottish Indie Sampler has been announced and that is something that we are part of. I have been in contact with those involved and the announcement was made without my prior knowledge, despite my reservations. As such, I feel it important that I post something pro-actively, as opposed to adding to the dissonance of emotionally reactive “management”. Once a final decision has been made, we shall update our position.

Hopefully, through reasoned discourse, we can create a little more unity.

 

A Love Letter To Bangers (2008-2016)

 

Ahead of their final show at the Specialist Subject Records all-dayer in London tomorrow, I felt it prudent to write a few words about how wonderful I believe the three humans that comprise Bangers to be, how great I thought their band was and how bummed I am that they are calling it a day. I just wanted to write a little something to express how bummed I am but also to express my gratitude for their existence and for all the inspiration they’ve unwittingly gifted to me across the years.

I’m fairly certain that the first time I saw Bangers live was when they supported Iron Chic alongside Shields Up and Citizens at a This Is Our Battlefield show at the 13th Note in Glasgow in June 2011. That was the same night that we decided that we were going to form Uniforms, so pumped were we after the show driving back to Dundee in big G’s motor. They always exuded a weirdness unlike many of their UK punk contemporaries and I know that Jonny was always a big fan of Hit The Beach from back in the day. That show was the first time I felt that they had a profound impact on me; there was something about the live show that transmitted their oddness more directly than their recordings allowed. From that moment on, they had me!

 

In the five years since then I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Bangers play countless times. They’ve released three quality LPs (all of which come highly recommended) and a slew of 7″s and interesting releases, including the massively inspiring “Mysterious Ways” album that was conceived, written and recorded in 48 hours, with tremendous results. That creative spirit, that playfulness and willingness to actively engage in silliness, was a massive part of their appeal, yet they rarely strayed too far from the underlying existential questioning and cynicism that pervaded their narrative; a juxtaposition of light and shade. By allowing themselves that creative freedom to experiment, to conform to no standards but their own, excited and engaged me. By bowing out on their own terms, they continue this tradition. I think over the years I’ve managed to track down all of the vinyl releases they’ve done, although I suspect I may still be missing something.

They always had their own way of doing things, marched to the beat of their own drum, and that was hugely inspiring, especially to us in Uniforms. I think we felt a kinship; here was another bunch of weirdos from outwith the metropolitan centre weaving their own eccentricities and, crucially, humour, into the fabric of punk rock. I’ve always thought there was something of an idealistic, somewhat whimsical yet cosmically contemplative folk influence within Bangers, a unique storytelling narrative that could only be forged in isolation. Most importantly, however, they rocked and certainly *ahem* knew their way around a banger.

Their work ethic was also an inspiration; in the eight years they were together, they toured all over the UK, Europe and the USA (I think I saw them play at Fest 10 in Gainesville, although I cannot be absolutely sure) and played over 450+ shows. These dudes know and there’s no enlightenment can be attained like that from meditative time spent in stinking transit. Uniforms had the pleasure of playing loads of shows with them, including a DIY Rock Shop matinee show in Perth where Roo imparted the sagacious words of “take all the free drugs you can” to an audience of entranced teenagers. We were lucky enough to have them come and play Book Yer Ane Fest on two occasions, first at BYAF V with Leatherface in 2011 and again two years later at BYAF VII, which remains in my mind one of the craziest and most memorable sets in BYAF history.

Photo by GGM Photography.

Photo by GGM Photography.

Specialist Subject Records is the best punk label in the UK and have been an inspiration to us at MTAT. It can’t be overstated how much of a help Andrew was to me when MTAT transitioned from being an informal collective to a “business” and I’m not sure that I’ve ever adequately thanked him for his assistance and patience. So Andrew, thank you so much for all your help; you guys are an paragon of virtue and self-determination. To me, Specialist Subject is the prime of example of how to run a record label; it’s a family that nurtures a community and unifies people whilst prodigiously releasing records from some of the UK’s finest bands. Just check out their catalogue and you’ll see what I’m talking about; Great Cynics, The Arteries, Muncie Girls, The Fairweather Band, Sam Russo, Above Them; gem after gem. I’ve spent a lot of money on the Specialist Subject webstore and I’d recommend that you do the same.

I got my copy of the “Last Songs” 7″ in the mail this week, threw it on the turntable and felt a sadness unlike any other I’ve felt in some time when it comes to listening to a band’s final recordings. One of the best British punk bands ever, they will be a loss to our community. Three of the nicest, most intelligent and engaging punks I know (and impeccable house guests) I’m very grateful that I have had the chance to get to know them through punk rock and for the memories that they’ve created for me over the years; whether it’s Abbie and Hamish sharing the last of the pop tarts, screaming along in the front row while trying to ensure crowd surfers don’t hurt themselves and/or kick the mic into Roo’s teeth or just listening to their records at home, I’m thankful for everything they’ve created and the times we’ve had together.

I unreservedly feel that Bangers have been one of the most important bands in UK punk over the last eight years, certainly for me personally, and I’m real sad that I won’t be able to see them one last time. Everyone who can make it to The Lexington in London tomorrow should certainly do so.

RIP Bangers, it’s been rare.

 

Thank you Andrew, Hamish and Roo. See you in hell.