Teenage Punk Rockers
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Above clip from Bombsite fanzine issue 5
Few bands left a more distinct mark on the Welsh rock experience than Mike Peters band The Alarm, but few will remember Mike's punk band The Toilets. Prompted to form a band after watching the Sex Pistols play at Quantways in Chester during October 1976. The band formed in Rhyl during 1977 with Mike Peters, Glyn Crossley, O'Malley and Nigel Twist.
Some of the group members worked as bank clerks in Chester. Even here Mike Peters was a nice bloke, and would always greet people with optimism's and a smile. But the group members all embraced the revolutionary, equal-opportunity and controversial punk image at the weekend. Mike's determination and vision was passionate, as he would discuss the day when his band would be recognized as a Welsh rock band. Interestingly, they were followed around from gig to gig by the most loyal, hardest punks in the area, "The Buckley Contingent". Merchant seamen, dockers and miners. These guys were not to be messed with.
We first met Mike Peters in late Spring 1977. Mark, Smasher Dean, my girlfriend and myself were in a bar on the promenade in Rhyl. Mike Peters sitting at the bar talking with some locals. Soon after arriving the whole place exploded in an old western style bar fight after someone mouthed off. The owner tried to break it up and tried to lock the door. We pushed our way out and legged it. On the way back I asked Alg "what did the guy say", he said "I don't know I saw his lips move so I whaled on him". About a week later, we met Mike at Eric's, unaware that it was him in the bar. He explained that the group of guys we had worked over, continually cause trouble with the local punks. And the word around town was they had now got what they had asked for.
No known recordings of the Toilets exist today, although Mike Peters did have a 1977 recording from the Buzzcock's Eric's gig. Regrettably, the recording was stolen from his car in 1980.
Singer, lyricist and guitarist Mike Peters, is now a globally recognized figure of tremendous musical influence, with different variations of the Alarm. But his original band The Toilets were a short lived punk marvel, featuring energetic Clash inspired punk anthems. As Eric's regulars the band performed support for the Clash on October 22nd 1977 and The Buzzcock's and The Fall on November 18th 1977. Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones were present for the November 18th gig.
Our band "Why Control " supported "The Toilets" for a few different gigs. For one gig they let us use their equipment. This was unheard of with bands back then, since everyone was getting robbed.
Mike's talent, honesty and passion resonates with me today. The Toilets disbanded after playing their last gig at the 1520 Club in Rhyl on Friday January 27th 1978.
A few months later we watched Mike with his new band Seventeen in a pub on Station Rd as newly formed mod band Seventeen. The place was packed with punks, mods and skins. The sound was tight and very refreshing. We were at the bar when Mike came over and started telling us about the new band the sound and the line up.
click video to review early Alarm live performance
In December 2005 Mike was diagnosed with Lymphocyte Leukemia and is fighting this battle with the assistance of his family and many fans.
Steve Pond described The Alarm in his Rolling Stone review as "simple, forceful music, rambling strings of earnestly poetic images and the conviction that speaking out just might change a few things." What Steve Pond did not understand is that as the black clouds of recession tried to kill a generation. Eric's creative fire exploded with a spirit of do it yourself, do it your way and don't back off.
Hats off to Mike Peters and the Alarm, initially a hardcore punk band, stopped by the mod scene with a band named Seventeen for a while. Matured throughout the '80s before emerging as a successful alternative rock act during the '90s. Mike Peters has achieved the quintessence when it comes to the necessary elements of great rock bands and has continued the 77 spirit with tours into 2008. All the best mate..!
Above; City Road Chester Venue for Seventeen 1978
Monday, March 17, 2008
Mark P's fanzine introduced in July 1976, was originally an outlet to show support for the Ramones, as they toured the UK. Considered the first UK punk fanzine, "Sniffin Glue" reached a distribution volume of around 15000 by February 1977. The fanzines main distribution outlet was Rough Trade records, along with a few other London contacts. A lousy review of a Sex Pistols gig appeared in issue number 3.
In early 1977 Mark P formed a partnership with Miles Copeland and formed Step Forward Records. During March 1977, he formed Alternative TV along with guitarist Alex Fergusson, they performed their first gig together at the Nottingham Punk festival in May 1977.
During August 1977, the fanzine released their last issue #12, with Sham 69 on the front cover. Included in this issue was a flexi-disc EP with the Alternative TV track "Love Lies Limp".
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wed November 23rd 1977: U.S band "Wayne County and the Electric Chairs" arrived for their second appearance at Eric's club in Liverpool. Wayne County along with The Dead Boys, The Stooges, The New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers and a few other bands were part of the CBGB's punk extravaganza, who interestingly could relate to the eclectic Eric's club regulars.
London based "Sniffin Glue" zine writer Mark Perry and his band Alternative TV, supported Wayne County for this gig.
The following clips are from Bombsite issue #5 with additional commentary about the Alternative TV performance elsewhere on this site.
Earlier during August 1977 Wayne County and the Electric Chairs were offered a spot at the UK Reading Music Festival. They were considered the first punk band to play that event. Their performance was hampered with a mud slinging exchange between the band and the audience, commonplace today, but in 1977 this demonstrated the audience resistance toward an alternative style and punk rock.
Issue #5 included some guest writer contributions, Chris Harrap, had performed some Eric's DJ dates wrote the following review. Chris had got to know Eric's manager Roger Eagle from some earlier DJ work in Wigan during the Northern Soul period.
Chris lived in North Wales and was friendly with Mike Peter's who was also an Eric's regular. Chris convinced Mike that he could help promote his band "The Toilets". Chris organized an ill fated tour of London venues during 1978. The band traveled to London and played no shows and attracted no interest from record companies. Although they were not alone, London venues were only interested in promoting local punks, and the record companies were more interested in U.S punk bands or Kings Road clothing boutique employees with spikey haircuts and guitars.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Virgin had beat out Island and EMI to sign XTC, and the band wanted to be recorded live via their mobile truck. Eric's would be the first live taping of this unknown band. Formed back in 1971 or 1972 they could not shake off the hippy branding with the Liverpool punks. We never really understood XTC, they kind of sledded in on the Punk rock wave, and then sailed off into a jingly jangly poppy future.
Early XTC Video it is a pity that the energy did not make it onto the vinyl ...
Recently, I was walking around a discount store in Toledo. They were playing The Boomtown Rats and XTC on a loop through the store. It was like some cheap TV commercial music. XTC were pretty good live, but very ordinary and forgettable and did not fight for their spot in music.
The live recording from this night at Eric's is still available on the "A Coat of Many Cupboards" box set. The keyboard broke down during the performance and started to emit a gargling sound. The roadies gave it a hammering but no good, so they switched to a piano for the duration of the performance. Later XTC commented "Every time we played Eric's two individuals would turn
up, one would shout 'John The Postman' in the gaps between the songs and the other, even more mystifyingly, would bellow 'bromide, get into bromide'. You can hear this on the recording. It was most likely the best part of the album.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Mutant's ! A funny thing happened that summer, Mark was walking down City Road past the Black Abbot's recording studio in Chester, and Paul Codman drummer for the Mutant's, was standing in the doorway and stopped him.
The shakedown was like "Hey Punk did you hear of the Mutant's? Well we are recording our record right here". Mark and I spent the next couple of days hanging out with them in the studio as they recorded their EP. Paul was pushing the band to capture a Pistols sound on the tracks. But they were a mixed bag of musical backgrounds, and the sound came out that way.
On stage they were energetic, similar to Slaughter and the Dogs, but the art crowd was not letting them in at Eric's.
The Bombsite writers watched them play on a few occasions at the Havana in Liverpool, and in Bombsite #1 there is a write-up of a concert where they supported the Jam playing at Mr. Digby's in Birkenhead. The Bombsite writers spent most of the time with Paul. We remember how he expressed his frustration to be accepted as a Liverpool punk band.
supporting The Police.