Well since Wednesday it’s been a hectic finish to the week. I managed to finish work early enough Wednesday afternoon to get a few hours of shut eye before I caught a train to London to see German band Rage supporting Helloween. Back on a train at 10pm and in my bed shortly before 1am Thursday. To say I was tired Thursday evening is an understatement and I retired to bed early for a well deserved eight hours of sleep.
Friday evening was the short drive to Crewe to make my first visit to The Box for a pair of Stoke punk bands in the shape of Wasted Life and the mighty Discharge, via a local pub for a few hours of drunken debauchery for some.
Formed in 1977 in what then would have been a very industrial area, Tezz and Bones, the Roberts brothers, along with Rainy and Cal were responsible for reshaping the punk sound, and eventually having a whole sub genre named in their honour – “D-Beat”.
They have a very simplistic approach to the lyrics and music, you’re not going to get and rambling 18 minute epics about zeppelins from these guys. Short ferocious blasts of politically and socially angry, screamed lyrics is what is on the menu here.
Since releasing their debut album Why? on Stoke label Clay Records in 1981 I would have thought they’d have been happy with playing to 2,000 punks in the city’s biggest venue the Victoria Hall, but being so welcomed worldwide must have been so surreal.
In my mind, without the amalgamation of Motörhead and Discharge the heavy music scene might have been so different. The biggest metal band walking the Earth in 2016 paid homage to the Potteries quartet with two tracks on their Garage Inc. release in 1998. They’ve also been covered by the likes of Neurosis, Napalm Death, At The Gates, Soulfly, Anthrax, Ensign, Machine Head and even by Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest.
I’m not old enough to have seen them in their heyday, so I had to wait for their first reactivated gig at the Sugarmill in Hanley in 2007, with Varukers main man Rat now shouting down the microphone. I’ve seen them a bunch of times since, even supporting UK death metal titans Bolt Thrower in London in 2012.
The Rat era ended in 2014 when American Jeff “JJ” Janiak replaced Rat. JJ had been living in the city for sometime and was the Wasted Life vocalist and is now also screaming for Broken Bones. I saw what I think was their first show as a five piece, with original drummer Tezz back in the fold but now on guitar. That show in the Underground saw a reinvigorated band and with that new found enthusiasm seems to have lead to a record deal with major German metal label Nuclear Blast.
This video to this track was recorded at that 2014 show and is their first release for the label.