Legendary punk/oi titans THE GONADS are back with another red-hot testimony to the gutsy spirit of South London hooligan rock and roll. 'Glorious Bastards' is 18 tracks of filth and fury, released by Contra Records in Germany. It mixes protest ('Oily Rag', 'Ian Tomlinson', 'Fat Cat Splat') with pure punk anthems ('Noise Bastards', 'Spring-Heel'd Jack'), respect ('Billy McFadzean'), sauce ('Badly Done', 'Reinfected') and street culture ('Charlton Boys').
Punk, oi, oi-tone, oi-core... call us what you will, THE GONADS have been kicking against the pricks since 1977, with a back catalogue of classic songs including 'Jobs Not Jails', 'Tucker's Ruckers', 'TNT', 'The Joys Of Oi', 'I Lost My Love (To A UK Sub'), 'Alconaut', 'Oi, Mate' and 'Punk Rock Will Never Die.'
We were street-punk before the term was invented, helping to launch the 'real punk' movement that was oi – a howl of rage from the terraces, back streets and council estates of the UK that found an echo around the world. Oi! ain't about posing and preening. It's about who we are: the English working class, having a laugh and having a say. The GONADS hate snobbery, ignorance, apathy, bigotry and PC bores. We support unity across our scenes. As our friend Garry Johnson said, back in 1981: "United is the thing to be, think how strong we can be, united against society."
I picked up my first guitar at 13 from a car boot sale and I have never looked back. I bought Bert Weedon's Play In A Day book and learnt a few chords but the rest is self taught. I learnt to play by ear, from listening to rock & metal & thrash & skater bands, going to live gigs to see the likes of like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies. At 17 I got into the sleazy LA rock band scene, with bands like Love/Hate, LA Guns and Guns & Roses, which caught my attention. My favourite punk bands are the Ramones, the Cockney Rejects and the UK Subs. Bands I have played with include The Atoms, Moonshine, Cosmic Groove Juice, Mr Fungus (vox/guitars), and Hoffman Sloth (bass). In 2007 I was invited by Fin Muir, who I'd been jamming with, to join Waysted on rhythm guitar. Waysted released 'The Harsh Reality' on Cargo Records and we played some awesome shows including Hard Rock Hell 2 in front of 5,000 people. In 2009 I was invited by "RD" MacGonad (who also plays drums for Waysted) to join Gonads on lead/rhythm guitar. So far I have recorded The Gonads Greater Hits Volume 1 & 2 and the 'Charlton Boys' e.p. One recent Gonads highlight for me was playing Punk & Disorderly Festival in Berlin. Both bands are close to my heart and we have a lots of fun on the road! I am just about to finish off 'Love Needles & Sympathy', an album I have co-written and produced with Pete Way (UFO/Waysted) which also features Herman Rarebell (Scorpions) and Clive Edwards (UFO).
Guitars: I use a beat up old Gibson Epiphone SG guitar in Cherry Red. This is my work horse. I love how it sounds & plays & it can really take a beating on the road I also own a Gibson Epiphone EB3 Bass in Jet Black & a 1969 Yamaha FG-300 Nippon Gakki Red Label acoustic guitar.
Amps: I use a Marshall AVT 50 combo for all live gigs & recording. I absolutely love the tone I get on this little amp. FX: I use a Hardwire DL-8 delay/looper for a touch of slapback delay and a TC Electronics Polytune for lightning fast tuning between songs.
Strings & Picks: Ernie Ball - Skinny Top Heavy Bottom, Jim Dunlop - USA Nylon .73mm.
Favourite Drinks: Guinness/Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. Favourite Foods: Indian - Chicken Ceylon or Dhansak.
Favourite Film: Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas.
Nickname: Beano Boy.
I grew up loving Trojan reggae, Tamla, Ska, Slade, Bowie, glam, Hendrix and heavy rock bands – Sabbath, Lizzy etc. I caught the punk bug in 76. The late 70s were a special time; there were so many great bands about. As well as the obvious Clash/Pistols/Buzzcocks etc, I really rated The Ruts, the Jam and the Skids. Then there were Madness, the Specials, the Cockney Rejects, the Upstarts, Cock Sparrer, Iron Maiden, Rose Tattoo, UFO, The Saints, Motorhead, Secret Affair, the Small Hours... I could reel off a long list. Later the Business, Blitz, Dexys, the Burial, and the Blood who should have been massive – just as Case should have been. I loved the power and aggression of hardcore, especially Black Flag, the Bad Brains and Agnostic Front. All the giants: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Springsteen, Costello, Dury, Max Miller, Judge Dread. Fifties US rock, Sixties UK rock – especially The Kinks and the Small Faces. These days I'm into everything from Random Hand and Rancid to Buster Shuffle via Booze & Glory, Night Of Treason, Maninblack, Pope and Rival Sons all of whom feature regularly on my podcast.
As well as the Gonads, I co-created Prole with Steve Kent and was nefariously involved with the Orgasm Guerrillas. I recently formed the SkaNads as a Gonads spin-off devoted to rude reggae of the 69 kind. I write songs on a Yamaha FX370C and a JS 1600.
Nickname: The Colonel.
I grew up loving Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Dio. I got into punk and Oi later, especially SLF, Sham, PIL, Cock Sparrer, the Cockney Rejects, Vice Squad and more recently Evil Conduct. The first gig I went to was Ian Gillan at Corby Festival Hall. My first band was a school band called Spank Yea Monkey, which never played live. I had some success with Crystal Daze, an original dark rock band. We played some sell out shows and got lots of record company interest, including an offer from EMI but the Band imploded under the pressure. From 1988 to 92, I joined The Royal Green Jackets. Back in Civvy Street, I worked with an acoustic band playing Nirvana and Pearl Jam covers. We supported the likes of the legendary Gino Washington and Adrian Smith & Friends. For the last two decades I've played with Bustagut, a just-for-fun side project with musicians in my home town. Other bands I've played with include The Faces Of Sarah, and The City Of Vultures, a Grunge Rock band with influences from Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I joined The Gonads in 2009 and have recorded Greater Hits Volume 1 Plums, which Lemmy Kilmister reckons is 'the sound of thunder.' Volume 2: The Mutts Nuts may even be better but Volume 3 will be the KILLER!"
Basses: Music Man Stealth - you will not find one! Wayne from Vice Squad offered me two Standard Music Mans for it. Baby Blue Music Man. ESP 5 string Jagermeister Custom. J D Super Natural. Warwick. Fender Jazz.
Amps: Mark Bass 2x10 and 1x15 the Sound of Thunder.
Nickname: Mav, Putin.
My first memory of wanting to play drums (or hit stuff) was when I would use cutlery and tap on the plates, cups and glasses, or anything to hand. My Ma would tell me to shut the fuck up! (Here here - Ed) In 1976 punk rock kicked off in England; I was 13 years old. I became fascinated by the DIY nature of creating music. I loved the The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Ruts, Sham 69, the Sex Pistols, the UK Subs. I was fortunate to see one of the last Ruts gigs just before Malcolm Owen died in 1980. I started playing seriously when I bought my first drum kit at 18, having saved up through doing a paper round and milk round. Bands that influenced my playing apart from the above include Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Joy Division, Bauhaus, the Cockney Rejects, Discharge, Steel Pulse, Misty-In-Roots, The Specials, Madness, The Beat, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age and Rush.
Bands that I have played drums for from my youth are: September Rain (with my brother Mick Higgins on bass), Eternal Abyss, The Raindogs, Shadow of Doubt, Cries of Tammuz/Tammuz (albums 'Dumuzi Awakens' and 'Yezidi'), The Heroines, Ordeal X ,The Faces Of Sarah (album: 'Impurity', ep: 'Lament') Rock-Steady All-stars (authentic ska/reggae/rock steady band) In June 2010 I joined The Gonads(albums: Plums, Mutts' Nuts, the Charlton Boys ep). I am also playing drums for The Outcast Band a high energy, punk-influenced folk/rock combo.
Steve's Equipment: Tama Granstar black/chrome drum-kit, Zildjian cymbals , Tama Iron cobra double-kick pedals, hard-case flight cases Mapex Seat. Roland HD-1 electronic kit. Zildian Sticks.
Favourite beer: Newcastle Brown /A nice pot of Yorkshire Tea. Favourite food: Smoked Salmon, steamed jersey royal potatoes and side salad. Favourite film: Blade Runner. Other activities: Pastor, the Church of Oi! Rev of The Church of Killing Joke.
Nickname: Jim Trott, The Mumbler, the Temp.
The Gonads began in the backstreets of Charlton, London SE7 in 1977. The five-piece band grew out of the remnants of Garry Bushell's earlier schoolboy band Pink Tent, who were influenced by the Small Faces and Monty Python with a pinch of Slade, Mott and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
Inspired by the Clash and the Pistols, Pink Tent were re-born as punk band the Gonads souping-up many of their earlier songs such as 'Rob A Bank' and 'Pink Tent'. The early set also included cover versions of AC DC's 'Big Balls' and the Small Faces' 'Filthy Rich' as well as forgotten numbers like 'Red Army', 'Antigalligan Last Bell', 'Darling Harold', 'The Legend of Sam Bartram' and 'Ripper's Delight'. The original line-up were together for less than a year, playing at local pubs such as the Lads Of The Village in Charlton and at parties. The band released just one single 'Stroke My BeachComber Baby' b/w 'Big Balls' on their own Scrotum label, and were completely ignored by the rock press.
Years later the music journalist Christine Cousins described them as having been "as tight as a gnat's fore-skin and louder than a Bernard Manning belch." But others remember them as being rather more chaotic than that sounds. The Gonads attracted a loyal local following including Tucker and his Ruckers, the Indus Skins and the Charlton Boys.
Highlights of this first incarnation included the legendary acoustic tour of South London curry houses. They also unsuccessfully approached Charlton striker Derek 'Gypo' Hales for management. When he turned them down, for a laugh they accepted a management offer from a local character called Dodgy Dave Long who immediately decided the band should stop gigging and "hold back until the time is right". They would never have been heard of again if Garry - Gal Gonad - hadn't reformed the band in 1981 to show solidarity with the Oi Movement. Gal was in the forefront of Oi, he managed the Cockney Rejects and compiled the first four Oi albums. The second and most famous Gonads line-up included Steve Kent on guitar (later replaced by Steve Whale, Clyde Ward and then JJ Bedsore) and Mark Brennan on bass, with a succession of drummers including at one stage Mark Brabbs from Tank.
Long was replaced as manager by the poet Garry Johnson who famously lived "in an 'ouse in 'Ackney with an outside loo" and the band's golden era beganin earnest. The Gonads were famously "street-socialist" with a commitment to older working class traditions, including Music Hall and stag comics. The 'Pure Punk For Row People' ep ran the Anti-Nazi League phone number on the back (along with ones for Alcoholics Anonymous and Beki Bondage) and the band supported the Prisoners' Rights organization and the League Of Labour Skins.
Classic Gonads recordings such as 'Jobs Not Jails', 'Dying For A Pint', 'Punk Rock Will Never Die' 'I Lost My Love To A UK Sub' (based on a true story), 'Tucker's Ruckers Ain't No Suckers', 'Hitler Was A Homo', and 'The Joys Of Oi' established them as one of the greatest Oi! bands of all time. The Gonads found time to kick-start Punk Pathetique, and successfully pioneered the punk/metal cross-over with the song 'TNT' on the Total Noise ep as well.
Like most of their contemporaries, the band drifted apart over the next couple of years but the Gal Gonad/Steve Kent alliance went on to create both Prole and the Orgasm Guerrillas as studio projects. Gal also managed Charlton's other anarchic sons The Blood (1984-5).
The Gonads weren't to exist in a concrete form again until 1990 when Gal teamed up with old buddies Clyde Ward and Colin Blood (Cardinal Jesushate) to record the original versions of 'Lager Louts' and 'British Steel'. They jammed a bit, but nothing serious happened until 1996 when Gal and Clyde recorded 'The Lottery Song' and the as yet unreleased 'Mystic Meg' and 'Give Her A Dog For Xmas'. A year later, they recruited Casanova Kev on bass and the core of the new Gonads was born to record the comeback single 'Oi! Nutter' b/w '(What's The Story?) England's Glory'.
In 1998, the Gonads toured the USA with Rockin' Dave on guitar and the Romulan on drums. Albums 'Back & Barking', 'Schitz-oi-phrenia' and 'Old Boots, No Panties' followed, along with a Rebellion appearance in Blackpool. The Ska song 'Oi Mate' proved to be the band's most popular live song to date. But Clyde's production commitments kept them off the road for long periods of time. Frustrated, Gal was about to break up the Gonads once and for all until New York fan André Schlesinger (formerly of The Press, now with Maninblack) persuaded him to keep going. Gal recruited Tony Feedback (ex-Angelic Upstarts) and Scoops (of Superyob) on bass and with a changing procession of drummers (including the legendary Paul MacGonad of Waysted) began gigging regularly again. 2008 saw the 'Live Free, Die Free' album; followed at the end of 2009 by 'Glorious Bastards'.
In 2009 the band played Germany (the Punk & Disorderly Festival) and Sweden for the first time, returning to Germany for a mini-tour and the Total Oi Festival in 2010. A brief, inglorious period saw legendary rock lunatic RD (aka "MacGonad") join as drummer, however this association ended after just four gigs because of what it would be polite to describe as "musical differences." But maniacal RD did help put together the current band line-up which consists of Gal, Nacho Jase (guitar), Mick Maverick (bass), and South Coast Steve on drums. Under the watchful eye of associate comrade manager FB, the new Gonads bounce ever upwards and onwards towards our goal of Professionalism. The band has just (Sept 2010) recorded a shit-hot sixteen-track Greater Hits album which makes everything that has gone before sound like a rehearsal. Projects for 2011 include gigs in Northern Europe and Eastern Europe, Gal's first solo album and the coming of the Franken-Skin. Be afraid, be very afraid.
By Colin 'Fat Col' Gannon, tour manager, Addick and lifelong fan