Tag Archives: uk decay

40 years of punk in the east documentary

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

I was featured  recently in an Anglia TV special marking 40 years since the punk movement. This two part mini documentary series is about punk in the Eastern Counties and was hosted by Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson who was a big punk fan and UK Decay fan.

Matt was the same presenter who featured UK Decay and Bauhaus in “The Origins of Goth” feature back in 2014.

Also featured are Steve Ignorant from Crass, Charlie Harper from UK Subs and author and university lecturer Matt Worley whose new book No Future is an in-depth look at the effect punk had on politics and culture.

There are also some still shots of early 1980’s Luton Punks featured on the show taken from UK Decay’s  Communities web archive.

 

It comes in two parts…

 

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Part One

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Part Two

ITV Punk Special in 2018!

Interviewed for ITV Punk Special out in 2018!

Yesterday I returned to the Hat Factory Arts and Media Center in Luton to take part in an interview with Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson.  He is a massive UK Decay fan and sent me a host of live tapes ten years ago when we were getting the UK Decay Communities website going.

Matt is putting together a show that highlights the birth of the punk movement in the Anglia region and what it was like growing up throughout the Punk era.  It is something that he is quite knowledgeable about as he grew up in this scene himself. So we had a couple hour chat with edited highlights to be seen on the forthcoming production due out in the new year. Besides your truly Matt has interviewed Steve Ignorant , Chris Needs who played guitar for The Users in Cambridge, Matt Whorley whose book No Future has just been published by Cambridge University Press and Jonty Young who runs the Punk in the East website. There will also be a special emphasis on tales from the gig at the end of the pier, The West Runton Pavilion. So a lot to look forward to!

Please check back here or visit UK Decay ‘s family of websites for updates on this

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

I have a couple of tracks coming out on this forthcoming release due out in June 2017 on Cherry Red. This will be one of the most compelling Goth compilations ever to see the light of day.

On disc one, I co wrote and performed a  song I brought to the mix after I was ‘poached ‘ by UK Decay  from Pneumania in 1979 –  ‘Black Cat’.  This became one of the most enduring UK Decay live tracks during both the early and later periods.  A few tracks later I appear with-  IN Excelsis on a track called  Carnival Of The Gullible’. I formed In Excelsis with Mark Bond and Errol Blythe formerly from Post Punk legends, Ritual and Colin Rocks who later joined Mark. E. Smith with The Fall..  Errol and Mark were left stranded after drummer Raymundo and Bassist Jamie were ‘poached’ by  Ian Astbury form Southern Death Cult so after UK Decay split at the end of 1982. This was a weird period for me, I flirted with Gaynor and Rick from World Circus, Jammed with Rob from The Wall , then finally teaming up with Mark Errol and Colin to form IN Excelsis in 1983.    Richard Anderson got in touch with me in 2016 explaining his interest in creating the ‘ultimate’ Gothic Rock compilation, so I digitally re-mastered ‘Black Cat’ especially  for this compilation.

Below is a bit of ‘official’ blurb about the compilation

Cherry Red have announced the tracklisting for “Silhouettes and Statues” – A Gothic Revolution: 1978 – 1986 5CD collection, which is due 30th June.  Silhouettes and Statues is described as “an era-defining journey through the gothic revolution that thrived in the underbelly of the UK’s music scene during the late 1970s and 1980s. From Joy Division’s haunted soul-searching to the wild, hairspray guzzling antics of Alien Sex Fiend and everything in-between, the myriad components of that time and place are brought together here for the first time in this kind of detail.”

The set comes in a deluxe hardback book format featuring 80+ tracks, with over 18,000 words of sleevenotes (including artist contributions) and unseen images.

See the tracklisting here

 

Spon-Abbo-40 years punk in Luton

40 Years Of Punk in Luton..

Abbo  and I recently visited The Hat Factory Arts and Media Centre in our hometown to discuss Punk Rock in the UK’s 40th year. Our performance was entitled “Luton, Centre of the Punk Rock Universe with Abbo and Spon

The chair and MC for the night was Fahim Qureshi from Luton Culture whom was more than well qualified to host the proceedings as Fahim or ‘Fame’ was an active spiky haired punk about town back in the late seventies. Back then he was promoting some of the earliest punk gigs in Luton including the Barnfield College Gigs and was a co-hand at promoting the infamous Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig at Marsh Farm in late 1979.

I prepared a powerpoint slide show of images of gig posters, press cuttings,  punks, punk bands of most of the early events that happened in Luton from 1976 onwards. This acted as a stimulus for discussion with ourselves and the audience.  Forty years is a long time and memories can sometime play tricks, it can be good to share with others that were around at the time. Sometimes forgotten stuff can resurface in discussion with others and alternative insights can enlighten a memory. Hence I think everybody that participated provided real interest and content to the discussion.

Abbo had attended his Mothers funeral late after getting caught up in the ‘Black Friday’ traffic that afternoon so it couldn’t have been more difficult for him. I don’t know how he managed, most people would have been in pieces , I certainly would! You have to have maximum respect for the man’s professionalism.

We talked about the early punk gigs in Luton including the first at the Royal Hotel in Mill Street on October 6th 1976 with The Damned playing their tenth ever gig.  There was a few in that company who had been there all those years ago! Including myself! We talked about the gigs and the bands , the great creativity , the great antipathy that punks suffered in what was difficult times. There was often trouble at gigs back in the day, but this was the price to be paid for deliberately stepping into what was then a tribal culture which to some seemed hell bent on nihilism and disorder, To us it was an exciting new territory of music , sound and anti-fashion  voyeurism to be explored and populated. In an age before the interweb we networked , created anarchistic fanzines, painted our jackets, wore cool punk badges (or buttons as they are called today) , dyed our hair with crazyclour (no wonder many of us ain’t got any hair left today!). Some of us promoted gigs, some of us did poetry, we created artworks and some of us did music , then of course it was the band! Our band.

Of course as Abbo and I were later both in UK Decay, there was a history before Decay in Luton. Of course Luton’s first punk was The Jets who were basically inspired by the Damned gig. They played at the infamous Roxy club in Covent Garden back in 1977 and appeared on the “Live At The Roxy” compilation. Things moved on through some of my other early bands as I eventually moved on from playing keyboards in Toad The Wet Sprocket – which more than a few in the audience remembered embarrassingly! Well perhaps I should be prouder of my history, Toad were a good band! but after seeing The Damned and later that month The Sex Pistols at the Queensway Hall in Dunstable, I started to wonder if the Blues that Toad tws played was right for me! I loved the new energy of Punk. It took me a year or two to realize that I would have to trade in my Vox Continental keyboard for a Guitar. This is what I eventually did in late 1978 when I teamed up with Captain Bluett and a bit later Gaynor (Snow White)

So we squatted an old house in Wellington Street  and turned the coalbunker basement into a rehearsal room. We soon got to know The Resistors another young band of whippersnappers he he!  particularly Martin and Steve Harle. some of the other chaps in the Resistors were in the audience and were delighted to see their younger selves up on the screen!

So there it was, we had created a potential meeting point that would help launch Luton’s Punk scene. Which by 1979 it did.  Snow White had now changed name to Pneumania and The Resistors, now with Abbo on vocals to UK Decay., We collaborated on a ‘Split Single’ , gigs and just about everything else! Later that year I joined UK Decay on guitar and it went on from there! The Split Single was Luton’s first D.I.Y release , we pipped the Jets, now The Tee Vee’s and The Friction’s ‘split single by a few weeks! So the Luton punk discussion for a time looked at this what we called ‘the second wave’ and actually some called it the ‘third wave’ after the initial explosion of 76. I guess the UK Decay part of Luton’s punk history has it’s place and I guess it would be natural for Abbo and I to talk about it!

It wasn’t all discussion either, we broke up the evening with half a dozen or so songs which was the closest thing  we could do to being ‘unplugged’. Justin Saban joined us onstage to help ‘glue’ our performance together. He brought along a bespoke stompbox which provided a rhythm and we played through a number of songs which included our first ever live performance of ‘Drink’ from our recent ‘New Hope From The Dead’ album. For that I created an mp3 of the violin part and played my guitar with my cell with the mp3 playing – all going through my stomp boxes and space echo! It was a first! Being as it was an ‘unplugged’ performance we had every excuse to sit down and play which to some might appear ‘unforgivable’  But it seemed to be about right for the timbre of the evening.

Eventually the evening rolled out to questions then more personal meetups at the bar later. The feedback I got was really good, we had provoked a keen interest and it was really good catching up with some of the peops from all those years ago. I guess next meettup and discussion wil be for the fiftieth in a decades time.

Thank Ron Todd for the pictures and video clips.




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Luton: Centre of the Punk Rock Universe

With Abbo and Spon….

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Abbo and I will be at Luton’s Hat Factory Art’s and Media Centre on Friday 25th November to talk about Punk in the Luton area back in the late seventies. This is part of the “40 years of Punk” celebrations going down over November at that venue and widely across the country. I am hoping to put together a few slides of various characters, bands, venues, fanzines from Luton and the surrounding are during the late seventies early eighties period. Hopefully this inspire discussion among ourselves and the audience.

Then Justin Saban will join us and we shall perform a couple our punk platters ‘unplugged’ style. So after I have written this I had better dust off the cobwebs of my guitar and get practicing!

When are UK Decay returning for more gigs and recordings? – As part of the talk we shall be hosting a questions and answers session hopefully this question and many others will be answered!

Tickets are just £5.00 bookable in advance from here

Further info

 

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The Origins Of Goth

Mathew Hudson’s ITV Anglia News piece featuring Bauhaus and UK Decay about the origins of the Gothic Rock genre in Luton and Northampton. Interviews with Bauhaus manager Graham Bentley, UK Decay’s Steve “Abbo” Abbott and myself…Steve Spon.
Also includes footage of a very early Bauhaus gig at the Romany Pub, Northampton. The TV piece was first shown 31 October 2014.
The location of the mixing room, rehearsal and interview footage was Sound Arc Studios in Shefford near Bedford, recorded summer 2014.

THIS IS NOW

“Film and Video after Punk”

THIS IS NOW POSTER

THIS IS NOW POSTER Saturday 21st November 2015. Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre 2pm – 11pm. Free Entry and Bar

I will be attending a question and answer session at the festival…

“Dumping It On Parliament Revisited”

Dumping It On Parliament 2015 Live Presentation

Dumping It On Parliament 2015 Live Presentation

I am helping host a fiesta of protest, a host of bands covering tracks from the original 1986 “Dumping It On Parliament” and also presenting their own contemporary original protest songs to ‘Dump On Parliament ‘ today…

Dump it on Parliament Revisited

Dumping It On Parliament Revisited!

Dump it on Parliament Revisited

Dump it on Parliament Revisited

As an artist and musician I am currently involved in an exciting new project. Because of my involvement in the Post Punk music culture scene of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in the Luton and surrounding area, I am lending my experience and support in crafting an alternative music culture cross generation dialogue in Bedfordshire.

The aim is to revisit a project born of protest in the mid eighties that galvanised many musicians to contribute to a musical compilation of protest songs. The result was called, ‘Dumping It On Parliament’ a cassette album produced by local musicians on behalf of the ‘Bedfordshire Against Nuclear Dumping’ (B.A.N.D) campaign. The government had earmarked land in Elstow to act as the nation’s nuclear waste dumping ground. B.A.N.D was put together to protest against this.

The wind was taken out of the sails of this campaign however when the government, perhaps seeing the severity of the protest lined up against them in Bedfordshire, backed down. We sensed a victory and our attentions soon wandered to protest elsewhere.

Today there are more issues to protest about than ever before, particularly if you are young. There are many ways to protest and they might say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ but music is still a great way to get an idea across to a new audience. This project is seeking to find look for new generation to ‘dump it on parliament’ today!

The project run by is part of ‘Library as Laboratory’ an idea funded by Central Bedfordshire Council Libraries, in partnership with Bedford Creative Arts. The artists Dash MacDonald, Demitrios Kargotis and Roshi Nasehi have been commissioned to create a new project, ‘Dump it on Parliament Revisited’ . I will be meeting and mentoring the musicians and bands with the target idea of creating a 2015 compilation album of protest songs by contemporary bands. There will be a recorded live performance , which is hoped will result in a live recording for the compilation.

More information about this project can be found here.

http://www.bedfordcreativearts.org.uk/index.php/library-as-laboratory/

And a great article here

http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/Bedford-Creative-Arts-Dump-Parliament/story-27536795-detail/story.html

Ps. Late Aug 2015, if you are a musician or band and want to protest or are simply interested in being involved in this project there are a few places left. We have had a lot of interest, get in touch!

My role includes mentoring, consultation, creative production and performance.

Record Store Day 2015 – A Cautionary Tale

From an artists point of view

Steve Spon

Steve Spon

I am Steve Spon guitarist with the 1980’s internationally known post punk band UK Decay. I have always been a keen fan of independent record stores and as a band we would go out of our way to support the small retailers. However Record Store Day 2015 has unfortunately made us aware that some areas of criticism are rightfully justified.

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Terror and Wonder

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
British Library (Open until Tue 20 Jan 2015)

Terror and WonderLast weekend EJ from Diamondseeds and I spent a day visiting exhibitions held at the British Library and at the British Museum in London.
First we visited the British Library near St Pancras to view the exhibition, “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination” where “Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre…”

Ella Jo

EJ

Terror-and-Wonder-BL1

Spon, “ere mate….lend us ten pence!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was pointed out to me a few weeks back that one of our UK Decay records “The Black 45” was on display at the exhibition as well as a giant sized poster of the seminal “The Face of Punk Gothique” article written by Steve Keaton for Sounds in 1981 (he is still around but today uses his real name, Steve May). A number of years ago we visited the Tate Gallery for “Gothic Nightmares” exploring the dark and gothic side of art, this time the emphasis at the British Library was of course to be expected on the literature side.

So in a clockwise direction we headed into the crowds viewing each of the exhibits, starting with memorabilia centred around Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto” written 250 years ago , supposedly the first of the ‘Gothic romances’. There were audio clips and video clips to enjoy dotted around the exhibition with the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and Boris Karloff making appearances in the movie realm. A poster for the ‘Night Of The Demon’ loomed, a film that scared the shit out of me as a kid, me and a mate used to rent the super 8 version to play to the other kids in the neighbourhood in our very own ‘garage cinema’. A mention of how Batman was in some way inspired by Victorian bogeyman ‘Spring-Heeled-Jack’ here a spread of Police newspapers with an extended cartoon impression of the Whitechapel murders (Jack The Ripper).

The Wicker Man, The Birds, The Night Of The Living Dead, a Vampire slaying kit, Dracula, Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, Mary Shelley’s first draughts of the literary Frankenstein, Wallace & Gromit’s Were-rabbit sat alongside a host of early and almost unknown 18th and 19th century Gothic romances. Then there was Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Stanley Kubricks The Shining and a selection of recent novels, films and TV, notably clips from BBC 3’s “In The Flesh” a Zombie/Vampire drama series. All in all fascinating stuff, camera’s were banned so unfortunately no pictures! However turning the corner into room 6 , the giant sized poster of “The Face Of Punk Gothique” can’t be missed, it hits you in the face! Sitting right underneath it is the inner spread out sleeve of the Black 45, alongside Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead – we took the opportunity to cheekily snatch a couple of photo’s at this point. They can’t actually do us for breech of copyright can they?

The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition

The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition

The Face of Punk Gothique

Spon at the The Face of Punk Gothique

Ella Jo joked about me turning into a museum piece now! Hey we are still active today and writing new stuff although the Black 45 is now pushing forty years , gosh!

The last room contained a series of photographs of the April 2014 Whitby Goth Weekend, of course pertinent to the band and myself as we performed there on that weekend. I saw the odd face in the photo’s that I recognised!

Witches and Wicked Bodies: The British Museum

That was it , time to move on to the British Museum to view amongst other things an exhibition of “Witches and Wicked Bodies” , a fitting supplement to the Terror and Wonder experience earlier.

This was about paintings, sketches, engravings and other artwork examining the portrayal of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. There was nothing to say against taking pictures, so we had a field day. The only difficultly was negotiating the crowds, many of whom we noted and recognised from the gothic exhibition earlier.

Macabre, sublime and succinct images by artists such as Dürer, Fusseli, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti held the slow snake like processions transfixed . “The magus, or wise practitioner of ‘natural magic’ or occult ‘sciences’, has traditionally been male, but the majority of those accused and punished for witchcraft, especially since the Reformation, have been women” , so stated the museum blurb on the subject of the art. Sadly this was the last day of the exhibition, for us (and hundreds of others) it was a must see!

Wicked-001 Wicked-002 Wicked-003 Wicked-004 Wicked-006 Wicked-005 Wicked-007

A selection of art from the exhibition.

Anglo Saxon (almost!)

Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring  Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin. Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo... “Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy,  I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song 'Dragon Ships'). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song 'The Hidden Hoard', and in 'The Minstrel's Song' I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past." For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/

Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin.
Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo…
“Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song ‘Dragon Ships’). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song ‘The Hidden Hoard’, and in ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”
For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/

After that with the whole of the British Museum at our disposal and too little time and with fatigue beginning to set in we headed for “Ancient Europe” and particularly the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon material. This was befitting because Ella Jo and I have just completed an album project entitled “Almost Anglo Saxon”, which is a collection of (modern) songs depicting myths, legends, life and sounds from the Anglo Saxon period. We marveled at the famous armored helmet and at the Franks Casket with it’s inscriptions of Weland the Smith and at the nearby Lewis Chess set who’s pieces almost comically displaying their bulging eyes and glum expressions.

We also caught a brief glimpse of some of the horrific and dark Aztec material which freaked EJ right out! Very soon we were nearly out of time and in need of a resuscitating coffee, which we drank in the magnificent covered courtyard , just time to enjoy before our journey home.

A very rewarding and enjoyable day.

Steve Spon

Sutton Hoo Helmet

Sutton Hoo Helmet

Franks Casket

Franks Casket

Lewis Chess pieces

Lewis Chess pieces