"The mohican has had a long journey since its native American beginnings. Stories of Red Indians by authors like Karl May, Buffalo Bill and Edward Sylvester Ellis were already a staple of children's literature by the last quarter of the 19th Century. In these action tales Indians were the underdog; vicious, exotic, brave and savage - the perfect role model for teenage malcontents and anyone who felt put upon. Indian trappings became popular among delinquents in 1890s London, 1900s Paris, 1930s Berlin, and of these, the mohican was the ultimate and still is.
As Travis Bickle boils over with rage in Taxi Driver, his transition into a killing machine is symbolised by a brutal mohican. An idea that was not lost on the emerging 1970s punk movement, which shared much of the film's incandescent disgust. The shape of a freshly shorn strip of scalp, the mohican means war, pure and simple. There is a famous photo of US paratroopers in Northern France in 1945, their hair cut mohawk style for their jump into battle over the Rhine in Germany."~ Jon Savage
"If Churchill had had a mohican he would have kicked Hitler's ass in two years instead of six..."
~ The Guardian
Before I get sucked into writing a Brief History of Punk here (which I must get round to one day as all the ones I've read, and that's most of them, miss a lot out) I'll get to my point. The past couple of decades punk has been bubbling away on the hob, discreetly, the punk lords of our generation is a title that belongs to bands like NOFX, Rancid, Snuff, The Descendants etc. etc. They have learned by the past not to go too mainstream though, and many of them go out of their way to prevent such a thing happening (as in NOFX banning airplay of any of their videos on music television and commercial radio and the ilk).
And that brings us to the modern day, if you ask me who my favourite punk bands are right now, at this very moment in time, the answer would be delivered immediately without having to think, The Girobabies, The Mickey 9s, The Twistettes. Am I prejudice because I know these people? No, I liked their music before I ever befriended the members of any of these bands. If I'm biased for anything it's just for being in the right place at the right moment in history, Glasgow right now, and particularly defined by that Twistettes' Album Launch in Nice N' Sleazys, and Yellowland at the Barras, makes me feel like I'm part of something, and not just any something, a something after the very core of my beating black heart, a punk movement, because these bands are essentially and fundamentally punk bands, yeah they toss genres about, and yeah journalists describe everything as punk these days, but the feeling I got from being in the moshpit at that gig, I can only compare to being a little bit like the way people felt at that fateful first Pistols' gig to twenty people in the mid seventies. That gig, and the handful of brief gigs that followed it, produced, from the frogspawn of its audience, such notables as The Buzzcocks, Adam & The Ants, Joy Division, New Order, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie Sioux, and er, Mick Hucknall? As well as many others... All going off like ripples in an ocean to form the backbone of music for the next decade. Nothing will ever come close to such moments in history again, you might think, but then... You never know.
You know that ethereal orchestra that plays away in the back of your mind all day, most musos have it I think, the soundtrack to your head, earworms are the technical term, well, it doesn't sound very technical, maybe they should have tried saying it in Latin or something... Hold on while I consult my Latin dictionary... Ear, that would be... Auris... Worm, that would be... Vermis... Ah there we go, that sounds much more appropriate! Auris vermis, those auris verma (is that the plural? I dunno', I'm not that clever) that wriggle away at the back of my brain, my ethereal orchestra, the soundtrack to my head, has sounded something like this for the past twelve months...
"TO MY CREDIT I WAS DRINKING SLOWLY..."
"ACTING NORMAL IS A PORTABLE PORTAL..."
And so on... There's nothing like experiencing the hook from Equinox 'Oh, we shall see what we shall see' in a crowd with everybody reacting to it with the same euphoria... Hands outstretched, receiving manna. Something is happening here... These bands are living out a reality most musos can only dream of... Playing music to packed crowds of people who adore their work... Because the resulting sound is really, really fucking good, and it deserves to be adored.
I have a million moshpit anecdotes like that, of a million great mosh pits. I noticed when I started attending gigs with friends who weren't punks that they were terrified of the moshpit. Turns out few people understand the psychology of your average moshpit, it's just a bunch of people dancing, it's even quite gentlemanly in most circumstances, the trick is to become the pinball, let the flow take you, become absorbed in the energy, become the moshpit.
On that Saturday night at the Twistettes however, everybody understood the mosh pit psychology and got happily involved, people I was with who had never even seen a moshpit let alone been in one, were just diving right in, at one point some of us were even hanging off the rafters Eddie Vedder-style! I haven't enjoyed a moshpit like that in many years. Punk is back! And the sisters are doing it for themselves! (There! I used the cliche every journalist has carefully avoided using) D.I.Y! There's no real punk movement left? Start one! And that's what these bands have done...
...It wasn't just the Giros and the Twistettes that night either, though the maelstrom of moshing madness they incited with their performances were highlights, but there was more twists and turns than a major, and I mean major, prolapse underwater. The whole crowd and every act were on top form at that gig, from a rare appearance from Jackal Trades (who I'm sure I recognise from somewhere) complete with new material, to none other than Dougie of the Mickey 9s treating us to some unplugged unreleased stuff, to Ciaran Mac & O'B sounding twice as good as normal with the Giros' awesome drummer Gordy Duncan Jr. providing some percussion for both the rap duo and Delighted Peoples. The Jamfest ("which is like a rigged open mic") where a melting pot of local musicians alloy their skills to create semi-impromptu jams also saw the talents of Sev Dudzinska, Suky Goodfellow and The Foz.
I was particularly blown away by Pablo Eskimo, who were like a punk band fronted by Janis Joplin! I'll be checking them out as much as possible from now on... The night was seen out in fine style with DJ sets from Mark DJFive Lang, Robbie Darg and The Wise Goldfish (who recently remixed Gonzo Division's own Will Johnstone's song Universal Empire). The night went on with afterpartys for the afterpartys, and the Giros have rampaged on since then, they played The Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh in support of none other than Steve Mason (Beta Band) and are playing Deoch an Dorus Festival alongside Colonel Mustard, Twistettes, Jamie & Shoony, Fast Camels...oh wait... That's sold out. So fuck you, you snooze you lose...
The revolution is in your hands, do good with it and we will follow you.
And this time, I really did SEEYA' IN THE PIT!
And now for Spenglers bit....
Its a strangely quiet one down in the surrounds of the Gonzo Div. headquarters tonight which is a welcomed and rare occurrence round here but she knows I've got to get to writing and so has seen to it that I will. She is a beautiful thing really, The universe. The Brox is dead still and pretty much silent aside from the chrome stacked accurately timed cocaine kerb crawler that parks up, waits a while then leaves in a such a manner that would scare the skin from any steel eyed Russian mercenary on a usual night but not tonight! Not a soul in sight to give one single fuck so he carries on coolly, tonight the road belongs to him and he's good with that. There's a heat in the air that hangs heavy, its uncomfortable and sticky and some what tropical...strange considering it was snowing only a few hours ago!? I'm seated in the front room and I'm pleasantly stoned. The windows been open for a while now which is nice and allowing me to smoke in ease whilst languidly making sense of yet another extremely colourful booze fuelled weekend at work with the Gonzo.
Resembling some sort of bedraggled ageing weaver of fashionable baskets, fully suited with manic eyed black cat and ashtray, I'm remembering I had agreed to drinks with Jenny. Who wouldn't!? I'd set off for her place in Cowcaddens by subway, I was smoked out and three Rums in. Four beers later and were feelin' our way down to The Twistettes 'Jilt The Jive' album launch at Sleazy's. We had become so carried away in our conversation that when we arrived at the gig and were greeted by Mark (Mark McGhee GiroBabies) he proclaimed we'd pretty much missed the entire show! Fuck I need to nail this 'fashionably late'! Not all was lost though as the club night following was due to carry on into the early hours. I was soon to discover this would not be the case for...you guessed it, me! Mark seen to our tickets as I seen to the necessities! I'll have everything on offer and she's more than happy to take my cash! I've smiled like this before. But when? The Twistettes had been rocking the stage for...? I have no clue? But I do have a pill and the night had evidently, for more than a while now, been building to an inevitably yellow climax so I moved with the spasmodic aggression you would expect of a real life punk mosh pit and that's where it all gets a bit...shall we say, fucked up!? Its all a bit hazy, broken and well...I've been on this ride before and I'll most certainly be on it again.
For those who are familiar with Sleazys naturally you'll understand exactly why someone of my height, and especially in my sorry state, would struggle making moves past the bar to the front stage where it really all had kicked into full swing! 0 - 60 in the flick of an amp! I'm in the belly of the ship and she's crammed packed in collective consciousness. I'm going to make my move. I'm searching for Chris, Will, Kayleigh? I can see Loic, everyone is here and everyone has completely fuckin' lost it! Working together gettin' themselves off to the industrial carnage and orgasmic melody that shoots from the stage unleashing itself upon a salvating gathering of musically infused mind bodies. For a second I thought I had Chris! Thought I was Chris? I couldn't be Chris? Could I be Chris? Study his movements and master his talent? Its not Chris but he could quite easily be his cosmic mate! Maybe I'll be the one to make the introduction? He could be known by the name Finlay but on a sunday as Senga? He is the chosen one who has ascended vigorously and with little strength can no longer contain himself so explodes head-butting the ceiling repeatedly, all in perfect time. I spot Chris wild eyed pushing and shouting, loving and pulling and jumping and screaming and hugging and kicking and pushing and shouting and...CLEARLY EXPRESSING HIMSELF! From what I can make of Will, Veilhiem's the captain of his own ship tonight as his head bobs up and down in and out of view, his course set against the ever swelling wave of a crowd more crazed than a cock starved trick girl. "we can whip the horse eyes and make them sleep and cry" plays over as I fix on Will. Loic must have been around early enough to play his part in this one.
As I wade my way through a sea of familiarities I'm ripped from space time though perfectly encapsulated and lost in love for my fellow Gonzo & Yellow Movement weird ones. I'm brought back down to what I attempt to establish as reality and I'm being introduced to Ailsa. "I see your hair is burning, hills are filled with fire" for hours we're lost in conversation, every fibre in my body is receptive and I can feel everything and every one around me. Really feel. In some cases I Can hear what they're saying seconds before its being said. Did I take that pill? I must have so I'll roll with it! The next hours is a fast forward full of blank spaces needing checked off and filled in by others...in true Gonzo style I had enveloped myself in the romance of it all to the point where I have no control over my legs, my arms and head are heavy and cause me to drag while I move across the dance floor! Then suddenly, and like the premature flight of any boisterous rocket, I was moments from exploding into a thousand tiny pieces!
I've made for one sketchy exit. 'late night sketchy' yeh know? Within all of thirty seconds I've tackled the stairs of Sleazys, have paid no attention to the groups I seem to be stalling with each extremely high stumble I take towards them. Left, right, left, right, left and right....a black car! My saviour and rescuer! "Ibrox and straight for her" is all I could muster up. I focus fully on the journey home battling the urge to be sick, I work well in these situations, Chris has groomed me especially for it. An almighty teacher of the arts! Next thing I register we've parked up in Ibrox and the taxi driver seems to have found himself in the back seat along with me! Sparkled, spangled mess! 'what the actual fuck!?' "Are you alright son? Do you need me to call for assistance? Is it they bloody eckys all the kids are taking today?" For ten whole painstakingly forever long minutes I'd sat open eyed staring into a reality of some sort that the driver was obviously oblivious to! Another night, another gig and another free taxi back to headquarters for scaring the life out of Glasgow's nightshifts...I must rest now as tomorrow I'm set to do it all over again only this time in the name of ICW!
Part 3 from Will Johnstone coming soon....