A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart

Diabetes, heartbreak and depression have changed the life of Marie from Punk Rock Avenue in 2018, but she’s brave enough to share the tale.

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr, who runs the fabulous French-Canadian blog Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

Last year, when I was thinking about my 35th birthday, I pictured myself on Vancouver Island. My plan was to drive across Canada all by myself and celebrate my birthday by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September alone and crying on the couch, with a dead pancreas and a broken heart. Here’s the story of my downward slide to the bottom.

2018 has been the worse year of my life. I started having health problems on January 4th. Something wrong in my right eye directly linked to an immune system disorder. Which disorder? Nobody had a clue. I was so scared of what they would find. Finally, they found nothing but prediabetes. So I stopped eating sugar and crap and took care of my health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the disease. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June. That’s when I started being super sick and had to stop working. I was so weak and tired and I was literally melting while doing nothing at home. There was something wrong. My blood sugar became so high that I spent a couple of nights on the verge of a diabetic coma. I was going to bed at night so scared of not waking up the morning after. It became obvious that I needed insulin and that I was in fact a type 1 diabetic.

I started insulin on July 18th and I will always remember that day. I was in my bathroom, staring at the needle while being too scared to put it in my belly. But I knew I had to do it to stay alive. Just like I knew I would have to do it for the rest of my life. My pancreas was dead and I had no choice but to do its job to survive. So I played Survive from Main Line 10 on Spotify, my diabetes anthem as I call this song, and put the freaking needle in my belly. My diabetic life had just started. Continue reading “A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart”

We Are Just Like You, We Just Don’t Have Instruments

Simon Widdop explains why punk poetry is worth your attention.

Guest article by Simon Widdop, a punk poet from Wakefield. Simon’s debut poetry collecton is Sending A Drunk Text Whilst Sober is available from simonwiddop.com.

The old adage of, “Here’s three chords, now go start a band,” can be translated into, “Here’s a pen and paper, now go start a poem.”

Poetry ain’t dead, far from it. It’s alive and beating hard in books, at lit fests, on TV adverts and at gigs. Yeah, that’s right. But not to be cliche, the poetry you’ll find at shows isn’t the same as the stuff we were forced to recite in grey tones in GCSE English lessons.

But where does all this tie into the punk scene?

Let’s rewind to the initial explosion of punk. You’ve just entered the Mayflower Club in Manchester, waiting for The Buzzcocks when suddenly a matchstick legged, drain pipe jeans clad, backcomb rocking John Cooper Clarke takes to the stage. 20 minutes later (or shorter, depending how ‘Ramones’ he was feeling that night) you’ve just experienced the godfather of punk poetry. Fast delivery, sharpshooter word play and a right hook to the senses. At the same time, across the pond and in the belly of CBGB, Patti Smith was reciting her kitchen sink realism and strong feminist works to an audience of fellow New Yorkers at the height of the New York Scene. Continue reading “We Are Just Like You, We Just Don’t Have Instruments”

17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels

There’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Recently, travelling home from Nuremberg to Manchester, I opted to join Fair Do’s in their van for the 20 hour drive, rather than making use of the flight that I’d booked. They thought this was completely insane. It kinda was.

In fairness, I was travelling home from an overwhelmingly good weekend at KNRD Fest, my flight was absurdly early (and would probably have caused anxious, hungover Sarah to have a morning panic attack about missing the plane) and I love hanging out with Fair Do’s. There’s no doubt that 20 hours in a cramped tour van is no piece of cake, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to everyone and it meant that I could party hard on Saturday night, now that the worry of impossibly teleporting to an airport wasn’t weighing on my mind.

That said, there’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

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As I write, I’m now locked in a hot tin can on wheels, driving with some of the Lockjaw Crew from Brakrock Ecofest in Belgium to Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia. It’s 17 hours in total, taking in a pick-up in Cologne and an obscure mission to collect a PRH ticket from a friend in Salzburg. We’re flying through the alps at 120kph in blazing sunshine with fuck all air conditioning, no stereo and so much merch (buying 500 Lockjaw compilation frisbees seemed like a great idea at the time…), vinyl and camping gear that there’s zero space for your feet in the footwell. Continue reading “17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels”

Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season

Guest Article: Random Hand’s Joe Tilston gives valuable advice on how to prepare your band’s merch set up, to make the most of summer’s festival season.

Guest Article by Joe Tilston, originally published at Merch Stall.

The weather is getting better, this can mean only one thing: festival season is upon us once more. Are you ready?

Is this your band’s first year playing a festival, or are you on your 10th run through the circuit? No matter how well versed you are, you need to give your merchandise preparation some serious thought. Too often I’ve found myself two weeks before the first big festival date of the year, and we haven’t got any new designs drawn (never mind ordered!), once again making an already stressful situation far more complicated than it needs to be.

So learn from the mistakes of those that have made them before you: prepare!

Keep it simple. It’s easy to get carried away on a merch stall at your own show or a support gig when there are only three bands, but at festivals all the pins, badges and lighters, bumper bonza deals and mega collections should disappear. You want to get through the queue as fast as you can, so show some restraint. If someone wants to haggle or make a deal, let them, but keep the options for people to look at. Simple: t-shirt price, CD price, vinyl price. Done.

Do you have a merch person available to join you? Have you made sure there is space for you to sell your merch; do you need to book it? Make sure whoever is selling your merch is able to spend most of the day there. People will be looking to buy merch all day, not just right after your set. That said, some festivals will only give you a small window to sell, so be prepared for that and communicate it on stage!
Continue reading “Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season”

Remembering P-Rock TV: Where Are They Now?

We honour a TV channel that lasted a year but and shaped music tastes for decades to come, featuring King Prawn, [Spunge], Jesse James, Whitmore, Farse and Violent Delight!

Article by Alan Corcoran.

Hi, my name is Alan and I’ve been listening to some variety of punk rock for 20 years. My first punk(ish) song, and the hilarious lengths I had to go to in order to hear it, will have to wait for another day. Today I want to talk about the short lived P-Rock TV.

For some this will be like fondly remembering an old friend that you used to be real close to but now only see when you’re blackout drunk in your local pub back home. For others, this will be like meeting someone in your late 20’s and asking, “Where have YOU been all my life?!”

For me, it is a continuation of my life’s work; to honour a TV channel that lasted a year (2002-2003) and shaped my music taste for decades to come. I didn’t even have access to the channel in my house; my friends lucky enough to have P-Rock would hit record in the evening and the next day I’d have 3 hours of (only slightly repetitive) punk rock goodness. That’s right, I’m talking VHS mixtapes here. Continue reading “Remembering P-Rock TV: Where Are They Now?”

Video: Practicing Meditation for Wellbeing On Tour With Waterweed

Jo of Bad Juju Yoga created this insightful short film whilst on tour with Japanese skate-punks Waterweed, recording the benefits and challenges of keeping up a daily meditation practice.

Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

When you think about life on tour, meditation isn’t the first word to spring to mind. However, when you consider the long, hard hours spent on the road, sardined into a van with a stack of equipment, the boredom of travel, drinking to excess and charging through sweaty half-hour live shows… taking 15 minutes for yourself to recentre begins to make sense.

Jo Smith, of Bad Juju Yoga, created this insightful short film whilst driving Waterweed on a seven day tour around Europe. She relays the challenges and benefits daily meditation practice in this entertaining tour diary.

Here’s what Jo had to say about it: “In April, I spent 7 days on a European tour, co-driving/ managing/ merch-wenching with Japanese skatepunkers Waterweed. I documented this journey for a bit of fun, and to also see if I could commit to my daily mediation practice on the road. I regularly felt tempted just to drink beer, chill out and not do my meditation but I by the end of the week, I had some self-realisation of what the meditation really did for me. So here is my doco/ tour vid of my experience.”

 

Bad Juju Yoga began in 2015 after founder, Jo Smith, discovered the Punk Rock Yoga manifesto. The manifesto empowered Jo to do what felt most authentic when teaching, which is why most of her classes use a variety of music genres.

Bad Juju is more than just physical exercise. It is a lifestyle, promoting a philosophy of community spirit. Bringing together like-minded people into a space where they can develop their own practice and knowledge of yoga and wellbeing. A space where they feel welcome and where they can be themselves.

You can find Bad Juju Yoga on online, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jo also teaches punk rock yoga classes at various UK and European festivals, teaching in a creative way using a style that is all-inclusive, sharing yoga through the love of music, mantra, sound and vibration.​ We highly recommend that you check out her online classes in the near future.

Explore our #MentallySound series for more articles about mental health in music.

 

How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality

Life feels shorter than ever; so I’m going to fill it with the noises I love.

Article by Sarah Williams. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

N.B.: I’d intended for this to be a happy article about how and why I enjoy live music so much, but it’s turned out a bit on the dark side. Oops. Trigger warning: Depression, suicide, bereavement.

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I’ve been going to a lot of gigs lately. In the last month alone, I figured out I’ve travelled over 3,500 miles just to see bands. As I’ve started booking in festivals later in the year, more people are asking me why I’m doing it.

Typically it is a question I get from the ‘normal’ people I work with or my long-suffering family, however lately it’s a question I’ve received from people in the scene, usually accompanied by an incredulous look because I’ve just turned up in yet another city.

I’ve got an answer for you, but it might not be the one you’re expecting.

Why do I go to so many gigs? I go because I know I’m going to die. I’ve become hyper aware of my own mortality.

I can feel the time slipping through my fingers, and enjoying the music I love is my way of remedying and recognising that. Every show I go to, whether that’s a sweaty Propagandhi pit, a crusty post-hardcore melee or a gentle acoustic folk gig, I will have a massive grin plastered to my face. I’m enjoying the noise, the adventure and spending time in the punk community, because I feel like it could end at any second.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been berated with the following: “You’re going to burn out;” “You should drink less;” “You need to concentrate more on work;” “You shouldn’t waste your money on that;” “You need to calm down.”

They’re all right, of course, I probably ‘should’ do all of those things. I’m fucking tired. I’ve got tinnitus. I get stressed trying to keep track of all the gig-dates on my mental calendar. I struggle to motivate myself to do my day job because it’s so different to my ‘other life’. I’ve given myself alcohol poisoning more times than I can count. I’m running solely on caffeine and enthusiasm. Getting out of bed to be at the airport at 5am when I’ve still got the flu from last weekend’s festival is a hellish struggle.

It is worth it, because I am happy. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been. And I have been for a long time now. I haven’t felt the tug of depression and the cold sweat of anxiety has washed straight off me. I’ll say it again: I am really fucking happy. Continue reading “How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality”

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

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How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]”

Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]

Part 1 of our Wedding Special: Felicia tells us what it’s like to perform at your own wedding and how a DIY approach can make a difference.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Lisa Robjant.

Marriage is something that has never, ever appealed to me. In my view, weddings are an expensive social construct and the idea of religious nuptials is antiquated and reductive. You have to wear uncomfortable clothes, wait to pose for awkward photos and narrowly avoid drunkenly embarrassing yourself in front of someone’s new in-laws. The only upside is the occasional utterance of the magic words: open bar.

Or so I thought. In the last year I’ve heard of some brilliant wedding celebrations that have made me jealous, to say the least. Seeing some of my punk friends tie the knot is enough to make me re-evaluate the whole institution of marriage. Maybe it isn’t a complete farce after all?

I suppose organising a wedding is a lot like booking a gig: you’ve still got bands, beers and a heap of drunk mates to consider. Far from the notoriously shite cover bands and mobile discos that infest traditional weddings, we spoke to three very different couples who introduced their love of punk into their special days in an inspiring way.

Over these three articles, you’ll hear what it’s like to play a gig at your own reception, to have your first dance to Wonk Unit live, and to say “I do” just before watching Bad Religion headline.

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Photo by Smiles Photography.

First up are Will Spicer and Felicia Dahmen. Spicer’s known for having previously played in Luvdump, although he’s recently joined a new band, Cheap Heat. Felicia plays violin with Danny & The Moonlighters and the pair are on their way to forming their own hardcore band with some mates in Bury St Edmunds. Spicer’s a born and bred East Anglian, but Felicia’s all the way from Melbourne, Australia.

What made their wedding different was their DIY approach, and the fact that Felicia’s own band played at the reception. Spicer even had to leave his own wedding for half an hour to go and seek out an amplifier. I spoke to Felicia to find out a bit more. Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]”

Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD

In the world of Spotify and MP3s, the humble mix CD has taken a backstep. Take my advice and don’t forget them: they can be a gift, an education or a window into your own past.

There are few ways to reach my heart or mind like a mix CD. They can be the ultimate romantic gesture, a thoughtful gift for a friend, or way to share new bands you’ve discovered. A mix CD can also be a time-capsule, reminding you of your former-self; what better way to wrap up your memories?

Like many people in their late 20s/early 30s, I grew up with a very romanticised view of mixtapes and mix CDs. I am too young for mixtapes, really. My parents had a stereo with a tape deck in the kitchen, and I remember my Dad showing me how to record songs off the radio but CDs were already in vogue. The concept of the A and B sides and the meticulous effort that went into their recording wasn’t lost on me, though.

For me, what cemented the idea of the mixtape as the ultimate thoughtful gesture was High Fidelity. The opening scene of the film features protagonist Rob Gordon – flawed romantic and record-store owner – explaining the rules for compiling songs:

This stuck with me, and I abided by those arbitrary rules when making mixes throughout my teenage years.

Growing up, I made mix CDs for my friends. I wanted them to love music as much as I did, and to share all the exciting new bands I kept stumbling upon. I was over the moon when a friend would return the favour. My friend Jessie has the most beautiful handwriting, her words used to melt delicately across the CD covers. I still cherish a CD that a school pal, Jennie, made for me: without even looking, I remember the autumn leaves on the cover. Sleater Kinney was the first track. I listened to that on repeat for weeks because I was so chuffed that someone had gone to that amount of effort for me.

Nowadays I still exchange mix CDs with friends, but it’s a more practical affair. My friend Mark loves music but enjoys different genres to me, so we exchanged our favourite songs as an introduction. I’m listening to it right now; it’s different but I love it.

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I’ve made mix CDs for most of my past romantic conquests.  Just after we got together, an ex made me a mix that featured I’m The One by Descendents – a move which won my affections for years to come. I used to listen to that mix over and over again; it was like being wrapped in a giant warm blanket. Continue reading “Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD”