Here is the S.T.E. Bulletin that we put out for the gig:-
S.T.E. 25TH BIRTHDAY BULLETIN – JUNE 2013!
Geraldine & Rich,
17 Oaktree Way,
NEW SHOOTS AND OLD FARTS WITH PJ…
Where has the last 25 years gone? In the blink of an eye that's where. Who would've thought all those years ago, when 12 people each put a tenner in to put a gig on, that it would last 25 years? That gig was CULTURE SHOCK at the West Indian Club and now I am going to see the same band in October at Talking Heads - there's plenty of old farts left in this scene!! Lots of things have changed in this time, people have moved in and out of the scene, families have been created and unfortunately some great people have left this mortal coil ( Simon, Traci, Steve, Helen, Hans, Tor Andre… there are probably more, so sorry if I haven't remembered).
I have to admit I got a bit disillusioned with the music scene in general, including playing in a band which became somewhat of a chore, going to band practices especially after a day at work but that was years ago. Over the last 18 months I've got right back into going to gigs – KILLING JOKE; HUGH CORNWALL (an absolute legend in my eyes, seeing as though THE STRANGLERS are one of my favourite band!); Hooky from JOY DIVISION -which was a brilliant gig even though they passed me by first time around, PIPES AND PINTS...
My other passion over the last few years is going down the allotment (yeah old fart!!). Growing your own fruit and veg is so satisfying even though it's pretty hard graft, being on the plot in the sunshine where it's nice and quiet is something else. Anyway I think I've bored you enough by now, so enjoy the gig and here's to the next 25 years!! PJ x…
SUSPECT THOUGHTS WITH TONY…
“Start a band...Write a fanzine...Put on a gig...If we can do it, anyone can!”
A fine sentiment and one that was very true, but the STE was about more than that for me, the STE was about community, a DIY punk rock community that really was about more than music. It didn’t matter if you liked a drink, or didn’t drink at all; it didn’t matter what band was on your t-shirt or your stereo; it didn’t matter where you worked or where you lived; it didn’t even matter if you didn’t play in a band, or wrote a fanzine, or even put on a gig; what mattered is that you were there and if you were there you were amongst friends. We all liked different bands, and thought some of the bands everyone else liked were a bit rubbish, but we were a community and we all accepted each other whatever our little faults and foibles were. We were there for fun, but also we were there for each other in times of tragedy.
We had something special, something the outside world didn’t have, we were doing something ourselves, and I know that it helped me through some tough times; people may not even have known about the shitty time I was having because as soon as I got to a gig I could leave all that behind and escape to a place that was mine, that was ours; the “real world” could go to hell, I had everything I needed
Times change, we’ve all got older and have different responsibilities and lives and that community feeling has gone to a certain extent, but I think pretty much all of us still holds those DIY values dear to our hearts and takes them with us wherever we are. And we’re all still friends.
Saturday 29 June – S.T.E. 25th Birthday All-dayer @ The Joiners,141 St Mary Street, Southampton – £10 – 3pm:-
Raging early 80s-style hardcore from the West Country with former members of RIPCORD/HERESY/CAN’T DECIDE/SPITE/DUMBSTRUCK etc. Blew The Hobbit apart 18 months ago and this is the record release gig for their new ‘Distorted View’ LP on Boss Tuneage…
West Midlands pop-punk quartet who played a number of great gigs for us over the years (check out the flyers on the wall!). Tonnes of releases on labels such as Crackle! and a new album has been recorded…
THIRTY SIX STRATEGIES
Old Worcs/Ledbury friends of ours from bands such as SHUTDOWN/ DECADENCE WITHIN/BURNSIDE/STAMPIN’ GROUND/FOUR LETTER WORD etc. Think DC/Dischord tuneage & bassist Ian Glasper the man behind the acclaimed series of 80s/90s UK punk books on Cherry Red…
WATCH YOU DROWN
First gig in over 20 years from reformed Pompey trio! One of the local mainstays of the early S.T.E. days, we loved their ‘A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing’ LP. Frontman Russ Bestley is the co-author (with Alex Ogg) of the great ‘The Art Of Punk’ book…
One of the best bands from Southampton, period! Emotive punk rock in the vein of BRAID & HOT WATER MUSIC, evidenced over a number of fine albums.
Under-rated, melodic punk rock of the finest order from Southampton. Drummer Steve is unfortunately away this weekend so Rachel & Matt will be playing as an acoustic duo…
Andy Nazer has been a constant of Bournemouth punk rock since the early 80s in numerous bands like SELF ABUSE/ZIMMER FRAMES/CHROME/ NIL BY MOUTH/SLUDGEFEAST etc and an old friend of the S.T.E.
Drummer Dom was also in THE DEMONIC UPCHUCKS…
Short, fast, straight-forward hardcore punk from Southampton. Long heritage in bands like CORPORATE GRAVE/OLDER THAN DIRT/THIRST!/ PORTISWOOD/PILGER/INTENT/WHOLE IN THE HEAD/SCREWED UP FLYER etc. Debut 7” out on their own SD Records…
No nonsense Southampton/Eastleigh street punk with members having done time in the likes of UNION X/THIRST!/SHG/CELLO BAND etc and drummer Ed has been coming to our gigs since he was literally a nipper!...
The frontman of Southampton’s EAT THE DOCUMENT and new band AUGUST RIOTS opens up the proceedings with an acoustic set of gritty songs…
MEMORIES FOR THE MASSES WITH ROB…
Here we are again, standing in similar places, practicing our poses and hopefully, with hindsight, not trying too hard this time (not that I knew really how to pose anyway!). Hands up those who were in any way involved in the STE Collective all those years ago, shuffling into gigs of upstairs rooms in shady pubs whilst a PA was hurriedly put together, speakers on beer crates, untangling leads, ridiculously heavy guitar cabinets being heaved upstairs along narrow corridors. Telling people that we were still waiting for a band to turn up, or going back to collect a mic stand, or some other random piece of musical equipment which some one had forgotten to pick up. It was all part of the fun, and I'm not even going to mention the cooking (!).
Strangers from different countries saying how pleased they were to play a show for us in our rubbish little upstairs or back room, talking about random bands, individuals and records like we were old neighbours and then eventually when the music started, how amazing every sweat filled chord, emotional cry and manic drum progression was, as onlookers clapped, danced and cheered bands onto greater and higher levels of punk rock achievement (not to mention the human pyramids, stage dives and funny banter between band and onlookers). There were no barriers, no us and them, no products, or exploitation. The 50 or so punters walked away refreshed from their punk rock fix, whilst bands slept soundly on ours and other people's floors, well fed, looked after, with just enough money to get to the next gig before the onslaught started all over again. Perhaps this is starting to sound slightly rose tinted glasses here, but punk rock was all about idealism for me anyway. Want to change the world anyone? Of course we didn't do it, but we changed ourselves.
Now hands up those who've only faintly, or never heard of the STE. I'm some old fart reminiscing about old times now long ago, harking back to a golden age of my lost youth. Ahhh, those immortal words of FUGAZI (oh, sorry - they were a band who were pretty good back in the day, if you've never heard of them...), "You can't be what you were". How true. How nice to write words to make thoughts spin. If nothing else, that’s one thing I've learned, and incorporated in my life. Every breath eventually dies to be replaced by another even more life re-affirming one... and the rise and fall of each moment.
It's not the 25 years birthday that matters to me, the record collections, or mix tapes, or the look I was mistakenly trying to achieve or the pose I was droning on about at the start of this piece (sorry if this is starting to make me sound like an art student - I never was!). Its the joining of people's experiences (25 years or 25 minutes ago, it doesn't matter) that matters. Wrapped in enthusiasm to do be and believe. I don't care if this has been written a thousand times, or if I'm 18 or 80. Music, if done well, enhances attitude and sets light to emotion. How amazing is that to my poor old withered brain, still unhip, addled and confused after all these years (!), but still stumbling over the occasional old song not played for 20 years sounding better than ever (even though the band members are likely to be Grandads, or even dead by now...), and the new nerdy band, shoe gazing their way out of a simple chord progression that sits in just so well with a drum beat which shakes and twists its way out of the usual punk rock straight jacket. Wow, how astonishing some guys can make a guitar, bass and drums sound after a million other people have already tried.
No limit, just respect, sharing and helping as an evolution. There's always more cooking to do.
Now, let’s get back to fixing my pose.
S.T.E COLLECTIVE, SOUTHAMPTON, 1988-2013
25 YEARS, 252 GIGS, 487 BANDS, 17 COUNTRIES
REAL BOSS HOSS WITH PHIL…
There are mornings now that I’m half a year dry - a whole uncharted wasteland that exists before lunch - so I get up, put the kettle on, and take tea and toast back to bed with me to watch the Sunday morning rerun of Match of the Day. I’m a glutton for punishment I guess, but I’m awake anyhow because my body clock is fucked up from 6am starts and I want to see the three red cards (but not the three goals) up close.
As it happens, all three are kosher. Ramirez elbows a West Brom geezer square in the face. The resulting scuffle sees raised hands and Fortune walks with him. Later on, Fox does a studs up, leg breaker of a tackle that sees him banished as well. I almost feel sorry for the ref, who it transpires has been put in charge of a mid-table clash in an effort to give him a non-controversial start to his Premiership career. Instead it’s three sendings off in front of his assessor - the saving grace being that he gets all three right and there’s none of the controversy that sometimes follows as the tabloids pour over every errant Tweet, way-ward grin and tapped mobile phone in order to generate the sports page soap operas that make an Aussie cnut a lot of money.
What Match of the Day doesn’t show is that by about the 80th minute mark, it’s pretty much only me and J left in our row. This has been one of the worst games I’ve seen since the shaky patch at the start of the season; there’s very little to redeem our performance – and not a whole lot to recommend in West Brom’s either. They’re clearly the better team but it’s not entertaining football from either side really. At least when Chelsea gave us a hiding in the cup, and there was another “is there a fire drill?” exodus of the kind that meant I could have laid out across half a dozen seats if I’d so been inclined, there was at least some semblance of entertaining football.
We make it out the ground 20 minutes later under a black cloud, shit talking our chances of avoiding relegation as we walk back to the pub. It’s funny how two hours earlier, we were feeling positive that we’d dodge the drop; whilst we still think we’ll make another season in the top flight, it’s hard to avoid feeling melodramatic after what we’ve seen and to be honest, if we played like that every week, we’d be as fucked as we feel we are. But like any trauma, it helps to talk it through – this is the very definition of lay counselling – and, dodging cars and puddles, we come to the conclusion that there are two silver linings: Danny Fox was red carded and won’t play again for us in this campaign and, unlike a few thousand Baggies fans, we don’t live in the West Midlands. I’d trade relegation for not living anywhere near Birmingham.
We wind down over a liquid-dinner, bloating out, people-watching football fans, Eighteen Grand yuppies and real life yachties and talking about our band, laughing at fuckwits and continuing the post-match therapy session until the world is upright again. After handshake goodbyes, I walk up to the top of town, grab a sixer of Becks Blue and hit up the show just as things are kicking off; say hello to a few people, crack a bottle, shake some hands and watch from the short hall way leading into the stair well/gig room/living room/whatever it is room when there aren’t hordes of punx invading the house.
Whatever anyone’s objections are to acoustic punk, it undoubtedly is punk – it’s unreservedly a bastion of DIY ideas, with people playing anywhere for the money collected from a whip around, payment in change and floor to sleep on and a bowl of cold pasta. It’s like a gateway drug in this respect, the hashish of DIY culture, because although there is a full band playing later tonight, I can’t help but feel like this is because playing unplugged showed – in the absence of a squat scene – kids my age and younger how easy it was to put music on in people’s houses, away from having to cover costs on venues and some of the bullshit that we used to stand against that makes me cringe but seems to have crept in as the norm.
I might not always like the music these days but I do like that this is kids doing it for themselves by themselves, a scene existing off grid. And in any case, if it ever gets too much like a patchouli group hug, I can always fuck off outside in the same way that at the Homestead we used to shit-talk in the hall way or sit drunk on the wall out front singing SMITHS songs over the bands out back.
This time I watch Kelly, El and Rory then the clocks ticking and I’m off again from one well kept secret to another - there’s a Northern Soul night I’m meant to be at, and I’m late, my new Harry jacket zipped up over a nice crisp Benny and I cut up over London Road, pop in the Prince to say hello, then it’s the usual incredible tunes and intimidating dance moves - we hang out for an hour or so, listening to Sixties floor fillers, soul rarities and skinhead reggae classics, songs that creep on to punk mix tapes, standing out, awkward, the youngest herberts in the room in a scene that’s been going forever, Mods and Scooterists our parents age showing decades of nifty footwork that shames our usual shuffling backwards and forwards, we can’t compete so don’t even try, catching up on each other’s gossip with the heavy bass rumble in the background - apparently this scene is getting trendy but if it is its getting trendy somewhere else and the numbers swell noticeably when the crew from the curry house turn up, we’re tourists here but like the kids watching bands in terraced houses, this is some sort of world under the radar and although I’m still smarting from today’s game, what the fuck, there’s money in my pocket, a job, more than one place to be and people watching my back, I know I’m one of the lucky ones, not sat in front of a TV swallowing prefab culture, not thinking, a-historical, force fed lies and told that it’s someone else’s fault, always picking on those who can’t defend themselves, scared to leave the house and always feeling like you should be angry that someone’s got one over you, got something you ain’t got, something they don’t deserve, not stopping to think for a moment or actually going out to see what’s out there, convinced it’s all shit, just wanting the next thing on an endless list of things you need but don’t need, prefab people in a prefab world, that’s not us, I think of how different my life would be if I’d not gone to that AVAIL show all those years ago, all the doors that opened for us, the bass rumbles in my chest and my mind races on sugar and caffeine, the brass section lifts me up, that’s not us, we’ve slipped through the gaps, we’re still here, we’re still relevant, we’re the lucky ones, this should be everyone...
WRITING ABOUT WRITING ABOUT PUNK WITH RUSS…
Well, here goes, I’m doing it again. Writing about punk. It’s such a strange thing to be doing – those two simple words, ‘writing’ and ‘punk’ don’t seem to fit together very well, they seem to occupy worlds on different sides of a great conceptual divide, deep in my subconscious.
Obviously, there has been a long history of writing about punk. I should know, I’ve read most of it. From Mark Perry and Danny Baker’s early insider commentary in Sniffin’ Glue to the music press journalists who made their name charting the changing landscape of the early punk years, before moving on to the next big thing and investing in shiny suits, cricket whites and hairstyling products. From the worldwide fanzine diaspora, MRR, Flipside, Profane Existence and the rest to punk histories, punk memoires, punk biographies and autobiographies. Some of those are fascinating and insightful (Jon Savage, Marcus Gray, Alex Ogg, Mick Farren, Ian Glasper, Paul Gorman), some are amusing and stimulating (Andy Blade, Steve Ignorant, Nicky Forbes) and some are best left alone (Dee Dee Ramone, Jeff Turner, Manic Esso and too many others), but it’s obvious to anyone who cares to look that the library of punk continues to expand year-on-year.
So, what’s the driver for all this punk literature? Nostalgia? Ageing punks with more money to spend than back in the day, still living the dream and desperately trying to hold onto a sense of their youth as well as control of their waistlines? I’m not sure I know the answer – and I do have to put my hand up to admit that perhaps I’m just part of the problem, if it is a problem. I am a punk author. I write about punk. There, I said it. The first tiny step toward redemption. Perhaps one day, to the relief of my family and friends, I’ll have got it out of my system. I’ll sit back, relax, switch on the television and settle down to a normal lifestyle. Less obsessive. More productive.
It’s a funny thing, I never set out to write – in fact, I pretty much gave up writing from the age of 14 and never really put pen to paper or finger to keyboard until I went back to college in my early 30s to do an Art & Design degree. In the interim, I had seen and heard a lot of punk, in all its guises. I’d played a lot too, as well as doing ‘stuff’ in and around the punk underground. At college, I was introduced to some books that theorised punk, among other things, setting the ‘subculture’ within an academic framework for analysis and commentary. Many of them, I thought, bore little relationship to the thing I’d been involved with for the best part of my adult life. So, slowly but surely, I began to write about it myself. I tried to keep my writing fluent and open, I tried not to hide behind complicated and elaborate ‘academic’ jargon, and I tried in my own way to look back, to look around, to investigate and to start to understand what it had all been about.
In many ways, things have been extremely lucky for me since then. I got a job as an academic researcher, then as a lecturer in graphic design. I was sponsored by my university to undertake a PhD – I chose to analyse UK punk single sleeve design, to interrogate the relationship between what things looked like, where they came from and how they fitted into a map, or matrix, of UK punk historical and sub-cultural development. That became an exhibition and led to more publications, and eventually to the Art of Punk book I put together with Alex Ogg around a year ago. I did an off-the-cuff talk at the Tate Modern gallery for the launch of the book, and I was described as a ‘historian’ by a prominent design professor – which was so odd I found it quite alarming at the time. I’m now part of something called the Punk Scholars Network – an international group of academics who write and talk about punk. I have to admit that idea worried me a lot when it was first suggested, but there are some people involved who I trust and whose writing I find interesting and educational.
I’ve been praised for my writing on punk, and I’ve been criticised – both by those purists within the subculture who see ‘academic’ engagement with punk as an intrusion and by outsiders who question the validity of studying something so base and crude in the first place. In a movement so widely obsessed with ‘authenticity’, insider and outsider positions become highlighted and important – though I never did believe the fake dumbness and anti-intellectualism of punk, since I know and have known so many sharp and clever people in the scene over the years.
It's still strange, though. Writing about punk. It still feels a bit like locking a tiger in a cage, just so visitors can stand and stare from a comfortable distance…
MY HEART & THE REAL WORLD WITH RICH…
No space! Don’t forget to buy a copy of the special S.T.E. tribute issue of ‘Suspect Device’! Superb S.T.E. piece by Ged at www.louderthanwar.com
The Birthday t-shirts look great (thanks Geraldine!)! Thank you to everyone involved in the gig today and I hope you have a great day!...
The S.T.E. (Southampton, Totton & Eastleigh) Collective was involved in putting on regular punk/hardcore gigs in the Southampton area from Summer 1988 through to the end of 2002. Since then there have been several more S.T.E. gigs and Rich, Geraldine and others have continued under the Almost The S.T.E. banner. We are a non-profit making & non-hierarchal collective made up of people like you & we only work with bands/individuals we feel some sort of affinity with – no contracts, guarantees, major label bands or business bullshit. We don’t all hold the exact same views on everything but share a common bond – those time-honoured principles of trust, honesty & a sense of community. Above all, we love punk rock & the emphasis is always on the gigs being fun (we aim to ensure these took place in an environment free from violence, racism, sexism & homophobia) & on communication (hence this Bulletin!). Whilst many of the S.T.E. participants are scattered around the globe, we still adhere to & promote these ideals