Welcome to Part Three of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender! In our final instalment, we talk to Claire Core and Craig McGarry, who got hitched at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. They’re huge punk enthusiasts and regulars at many of the big gigs around the country. Although they live only a few miles from Shout Louder HQ in Suffolk, I run into them more often at events like MPF, Wonkfest and Rebellion.
Craig’s originally from Rochdale, whereas Claire’s born and bred in Suffolk. They are one of the most heartwarmingly lovely couples you could possibly imagine; whenever I see then they’re utterly enamoured with one another. The story of how they got together is beautiful and, after meeting at a punk festival, it seems only fitting that they should get married at one too.
Firstly, tell me a bit about yourselves. How did you first get into punk?
Claire: My sister and cousins got me into punk when I was 7 years old and it’s always been a big part of who I am. I have a huge love for punk in all its forms and really enjoy discovering a new favourite band. Current favourites include Pears, who never fail to exhilarate live, Pizzatramp, Direct Hit! and, of course, I’m a huge Wonker.
Craig: I got into punk and metal when I was in high school, hanging out with friends skating and going to the odd gig here and there. There was a punk night locally that we went to regularly as getting served was a cinch. Loved it all since then. I’m a huge Misfits fan and an unashamed AFI devotee. I’ve also got a bit of a thing for most psychobilly as well as with celtic or folk punk.
You guys have had a fairly speedy advance through this love stuff. That’s no bad thing! Talk us through how you met.
Claire: It was at Manchester Punk Festival 2016 after the bands at the Zombie Shack. Craig was bouncing around trying to make everyone have MORE FUN, as he is inclined to do, and I propositioned him. I liked his dance moves and his big daft face.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.