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Friday, 3 July 2009

"Not a day goes by...

...when I don't spare you a thought"

The prophetic lyrics of one Frankie Stubbs, frontman of Sunderland punk legends Leatherface; one of, if not the most important band in my life.

"But MADman, why are you being such a dramatic fucklordassmonkey?" I hear you ask. Well it upon my knee, young child, and your weird uncle will tell you a story...

On my eleventh birthday, my primary school embarked on it's annual coach trip to the Isle of Wight (stick with me, this isn't as boring as it sounds). As a birthday present, Bro Dude had made me a tape. For all the younglings out there, tapes were pieces of plastic that you usually had to rewind with a Bic pen as most...oh, hang on, a Bic pen is an orange plastic...ah, fuck it.

Right, so I get on the coach and I've got my Sony Walkman and my 90-minute TDK. Side one is some album by this band Nirvana called "Nevermind" and on the other side is this album called "Mush" by some mob known as Leatherface.

Side one was ready to go and as soon as the opening chords of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" kicked in, I had a revelation. Kind of like the first time you have a dream about a girl where you, you know, do stuff. Or the first time you smoke a cigarette and vomit out the back of your mate's nan's shed. Until this point I'd been listening to pretty much chart music - my mum kept it real with the Neil Young, Steely Dan, Crosby Stills and Nash vibe but this, for the first time, was loud. My music collection extended to East 17's "Walthamstow" and "Monster Hits Vol. 3" and all of a sudden there was this noise. Rough sounding, angry; I was fucking away. In fact, I distinctly remember not hearing the bus sing "happy birthday" as I was so overawed by the music. Ungrateful little fucker.

So "Nevermind" came to a close. "Fuck me", thought I, "that was pretty good shit". Flipped the tape, and in comes Frankie and the boys. "I Want The Moon" is one of the best openers to an album I've ever heard. You get no intro, you get no warning, it doesn't build up, it comes in at whatever volume the Walkman's on and fucking stays there.

Then the vocals start and your sucked in. They're pure gravel, they're clearly owned by a man who drinks 3 litres of Jack Daniels, smokes 60 Bensons and gargles with flaming tyres every day. And then it happened; "How Lonely" smashed into my ears and on first listen, almost made me cry, which was a bit weird seeing as at this point, I had no experience of punk, metal, grunge, whatever - this was just such a fucking palm-shaggingly good song that I didn't really know what to think.

I listened to "Nevermind" and "Mush", flipping the tape over and over as each album finished, all the way to the Isle of Wight, on every excursion on our three-day visit, and then all the way back to London. Then I listened to it every night in my bedroom, and then I listened to it when me and my parents drove to Cornwall from London, and all the way back. And although "Nevermind" to me has been played to death for the last decade-and-a-half, "Mush" still gets played at least once a week.

Leatherface got me into punk. I loved Nirvana's grunge soundings, and "Territorial Pissings" remains one of the all time teenage headbang classics but Leatherface changed my world. I started getting into some of the old school shit (with help from Bro Dude, of course), plus bands like The Jam and The Police, and then started to find my own way with the Southern Californian punks - NoFX, Lagwagon, Mad Caddies, etc. - which got me into some of the Scandanavian hardcore like Satanic Surfers, which made me appreciate a violent vocal and savage drum sound...see where this is going?

I love Bro Dude for fundamentally changing my entire life with a single tape. I love Leatherface for recording, and to this day, performing the greatest punk tunes I've ever heard. I love the fact that Frankie Stubbs today became my friend on Facebook (cue imminent cringe-worthy geek email of adoration...)

You need Leatherface. Trust me on this one.

I'm off for some razorblades and asprin.

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