To get regular updates, gig listings and just to make us look popular www.myspace.com/thebusstationloonies
Latest gigs, take a peek at What's New? We've got a few in Plymuff April and May and then escape to Ipswich and London in June. Poor saps. Then, 'tis a UK Tour July/August 2006, you lucky people.
The Bus Station Loonies: 11 Years Old and Still Wetting the Bed
(Below is a really long-winded history of the band. To skip this, and find out the latest, go to the "What's New?" page. Updated 29th April 2006)
I was 24, godammit. Not too old to be a rocker with a future of alcoholism and breakdowns ahead of me. And there we were, five utter geeks, no step further than how we had been during our various teens, stuck in a makeshift rehearsal room together with makeshift cover version attempts such as GREEN DAY’s “Basket Case”, WAT TYLER’s “Hops and Barley” and THE CONCRETE GERANIUMS’ “Dick Dastardly” (and there you were thinking we’d written at least one of the last two, hoh noh, we were a covers band).
It began to snow outside and we were stuck in the middle of Dartmoor, right next to the prison. Was fate waving two fingers? Dancin’ Dave (brown flying-V rhythm guitar and moustache) thought so, screw you guys, he’s going home. So that was that, the famous five had become the infamous four, with Tony William Shatner Popkids (BIKINI ATOLL/ WYRMTURF) on drums, The World Famous Nuf (EGGBOX 3/HOORAY!WE’RE DEAD) on bass, Dr.Paul Tax (VALIUM 10) on guitar, and Chris “Felcher” Wheelie (Oi POLLOi/DISORDER/THE DREGS/C.D.S./HOORAY!WE’RE DEAD/VALIUM 10) on vocals and keyboards (the latter instrument was soon ditched in favour of the more high-tech kazoo, when they realised he had zilch musical ability).
Following 6 local gigs of a shaky, yet theatrical nature, Deek the Dummy became the fifth Loony and a demo (“Dodgy Cider Fix”) was recorded on Wheelie’s 4-track music centre. Most people said the tape was awful, but it got a great review in Plymouth University’s “Fly” magazine and I still feel it’s the punkest thing we ever released (which most likely means it was shit). At least it was peppered with comedy sound effects, samples from ‘The Goon Show’ and proved you didn’t necessarily need a 24 track studio mix, stiff with overdubs to let folks know what kinda nonsense we were incapable of.
Several more (mainly local-ish) gigs followed, including a classic, played in a bizarre club, situated slap-bang in the middle of a multi-storey carpark in Paignton, in front of a none-too impressed crowd of half-bikers and half-Goths. A 16-minute reggae rendition of THE SISTERS OF MERCY “Temple of Love” simply had to happen. So it did. Didn’t impress the bikers, but “Whole Lotta Rosie” was way beyond our means. Didn’t impress the Goths either, but earned us a scathing mention in Mick Mercer’s late ‘nineties Goth bible, “The Hex Files”, ensuring the black cloth brigade suddenly found us de rigeur, and seemed to evolve into amorous attention from a few daughters of darkness for more than one of us. Life’s weird.
Having been at it a year and no vinyl releases to our name, it seemed logical to embark upon a UK tour with fellow no-name eccentrics THE FILTH from neighbouring Ivybridge and Norwich’s P.M.T., in order to gain punk-points and pint-quaffing quota. I’ve no idea what we were playing at, but we managed 11 dates and a gutfull of giggles, proving, at the time, from Glasgow to Bournemouth and Bristol to Bradford, Britain was desperate and easy.
Incomprehensibly, we’d managed to save 80 quid of gig money not spent on wine, women and snog, so a trip to a studio proper was in order. Enter, “Wild” Johnny Clipboard and his mixer (or rather, we entered him). The end result, “A Thin Veneer of Stage Paint Rebellion” came out in cassette form (this was the age of CD, after all). The title came from a quote describing the band, in a stinky letter to the Plymouth events magazine of that time (“Scene”) in response to an article Chris had written damning the then burgeoning rave scene. Highlights were the fact that the track listing wasn’t hand-written and there were no longer tape-clicks between songs, other than that, it was the same old tripe, but less-muffled, due mainly to the fact that “Wild” Johnny owned microphones not already clogged with old beer and biscuit crumbs. The ‘Loonies (as they had become abbreviatedly known) had gone all swish.
Somehow, Armin, a spiffing chap from Dusseldorf had got hold of our seven shades of shite and went all gaga over it, reckoning we were like some kind of cider-soaked UNDERTONES. He ran a DIY punk label-proper, Campary Records, and wanted to release four tagnuts as a 7” EP (remember them? Nah, me neither). Of course, we went for it. Blimey, you feel like THE SHADOWS or DESPERATE BICYCLES when you’ve done a bit of vinyl and why the hell are you in a band otherwise? “Squiffy on a Small Amount” was the end result, all wrapped in a pink, then yellow, then punk rock black & white photocopied sleeve (no wonder the German economy is safe). Campary shifted something ludicrous like 5,000 copies. Don’t laugh, that’s how CRASS started. Well, OK, you can. Wonderful Radio 1 DJ John Peel played a couple of tracks AND ‘phoned us up on New Year’s Eve 1996 saying how much he was looking forward to the LP.
Armin wanted us to play in Germany, and why shouldn’t they suffer? 5 dates were secured; The World Famous Nuf couldn’t make one of ‘em. “Wild” Johnny played a mean rhythm guitar and wasn’t that just a bass with a couple more strings? He’d earlier proved his worth by standing-in for the bearded laughing box at a bash in Falmouth, by jumping up and down on stage, clad in skiing goggles and an inflatable lifejacket (note: any of you budding bus station loonies out there, Steve S.Punk’s days could be numbered). So, off to the Fatherland to play like a bunch of Mothers. Apart from our roadie, “Nervous” Sam’s Auschwitz-on-wheels mobile, and being force-fed instant laxative wine from the Rhine, it was all tickety-boo. Well, they’ve never had us back, at least.
Once back in Blighty and topped-up with petrol by the AA man in Folkestone, we seemed stuck with “Wildy” Clipboard. He had, after all, a sturdy recording studio, winning 5 points above Nuf’s world-famously sturdy beard. To this day, I feel unspeakably mean at ditching Nufty that way, but hey, his darts matches usually got in the way of gigs any rate. 1998 proved to be, to many, The Year of the Loony; recording tracks for such compilations as “Punks, Skins & Herberts Vol.1”, “A Scream from the Silence Vol.4” and “Bare Faced Hypocricy:The Anti-Chumbawamba EP” (they all bought a copy). Work(???) also began on the debut album “Mad Frank’s Zonal Disco”, to be continued. Around this time, we also started doing wanky things like T-shirts in Tooting, sew-on patches in Seattle, button badges in Budapest and back-drops painted by Ex’s in Exeter, but we’d got all big-headed and believed we were great. And that’s what bands do, like release anniversary LPs.
1999 and “Mad Frank’s” was recorded, yet to be tweaked and pummeled. Deek the Dummy’s legs had fallen off, Claude the Crab had muscled-in, Battle of Bands entered and lost, and Popkids masks handed-out and worn by crowds to infuriate bouncers at pubchains where mere baseball caps were already not tolerated. The ‘Loonies had played Goth’s 5-year old kiddies’ birhdays, biker’s rallies where they beat-up the support band because they wear drag, surf festivals where you can’t buy noisy snacks after 11pm and punk squats that were a lot more pleasant that the wine bars who ban you for getting shaving foam on their carpet. Paul Tax left to become the doctor he truly hadn’t been.
Popkids and Wheelie were present at Sean O’Porno’s interview as future axe-god, held in The Nowhere Inn, Plymouth. Tax had previously broken Wheelie’s ankle at an engagement party gig, so, along with walking stick, the future must’ve looked somewhat “Last of the Summer Winesque” for Mr. O’P. After being asked what Sean’s favourite cheese was, El Popkids was content, and, upon discovering his previous band’s moniker, ANDY CHRIST & HIS BIBLICAL MICE, Wheelie was also happy. “Wild” J’s only concerns being that the new guitarist shouldn’t be ‘too Irish’ or ‘too mad’ meant that the half-Irish, half-sane Mr.O’Porno was in.
As plugs were pulled (The Bank and The Cavern, both Plymouth), stages were stormed (The Parrot, Torquay, The Superbowl, Milton Keynes). Chris gave the crab to a little girl in Somerset, while WJC gave some more to Sean in Southend, “Mad Frank’s Zonal Disco” finally came out, while more tracks (for “The New Wave of Chas’n’Dave”, split EP with ANAL BEARD and a ZOUNDS cover) were recorded. A fat Elvis version of “H-Eyes” was presented for a tribute to THE RUTS album and duly rejected ‘cos no one got the joke. The “Wild” One half-inched more gear than you could fit into a juggernaut, and Seany-baby donned his Mickey Mouse ears and set sail for Australia.
“Klepto” Clipboard had began his sights on a crazy world record attempt but, while the rest of us ignored him, he manfully soldiered-on. Meantime, we got filmed, before Sean’s departure, for a Channel 4 documentary, originally planned to be about the band but, due to Wheelie feeling it would be too boring, became a film about Plymouth Punx Picnic and turned into a programme about him. Which, let’s face it, is way more interesting. Then Fatlegs Hancock joined on guitar and an ambition and a bank account was born.
The Bus Station Loonies began to practice like they were a real band and it just didn’t feel right. I mean, can you credit that around this time, they actually all became members of a musician’s co-op and once rehearsed with the lights off ‘just so we know we know the songs’? Christ. Nuf, where were you? Who could tell? The lights were off. With talks of early nights, receipts and contracts, certain members were feeling ill at ease. Wasn’t it just meant to be a laugh? A second UK tour was arranged (this time including Wales) and Fatlegs and Clipboard did sterling work with an old glazier’s van at the eleventh hour. The fortnight’s gigging (complete with soggy mattresses, real groupies, and more than one night in Birmingham) would culminate with a world record attempt at the most gigs (25) performed in 12 hours. To his absolute credit, Clipboard had lived up to his name and arranged what would turn out to be a stonker and nearly the death of Wheelie. The band done it, thanks mainly to the organisational skills of WJ, plus the mad buggers who supported, help, lugged and sorted. Never again. THE DANGERFIELDS once expressed an interest in beating it; good bloody luck to them.
At this momo in time, Christopher Wheelchair had had enough of the way things were shaping. Talk of refusing benefit gigs and squat fests was rumbling, charging profitable amounts each time and keeping bank balances up were raising certain concerns. ‘Twas time to call it a day. Fats and Clips seemed OK about such an arrangement, but original Loony, Pops was not. Two new guitarists were drafted, in the elegant shapes of Jessi (EASTFIELD) and Goz (DISORDER/Oi POLLOi), whilst Clipboard and Fatlegs were handed their cards, the dosh, the PA equipment and go-ahead to play all the old faves in any band of their choosing. The “Wild” One ‘no longer knows’ of Wheelie, as a result of such bare faced skullduggery. Shame. He’s a good geezer. Wheelie, I mean.
As WJ Clipboard, FL Hancock and TWS Popkids started plans for a new band to take the world by storm, THE BUS STATION LOONIES began to run down, as did C Wheelie, due to ill-health and general crapness. Jessi was the main man behind anarcho-trainspotting, fare-dodging and his band EASTFIELD, while Goz was bass-playing in DISRUPTIVE ELEMENT, driving for UK SUBS and getting a degree. Chris joined EASTFIELD as drummer, along with Ben Dur, who also then became bass-player with THE ‘LOONIES, while Goz got on with a real life. All in all, it made LOONIES/EASTFIELD gig combos a much neater package, in a kinda two-for-the-price-of-one way. Around this time, the band embraced keyboards again for the first time in years, with the last minute addition of Dick Mental (SUBHUMANS/CULTURE SHOCK/CITIZEN FISH). If everyone hadn’t lived in different parts of the country, we might even have managed a practice.
With Wheelie getting increasingly rubbish on the health-front, he had to hand over the EASTFIELD drumster skills to Matt (EGG RAID), simultaneously doing a soft shoe shuffle with Jessi who left THE ‘LOONIES fold, to be replaced confusingly with Sam Ladiesmann, who was an ex-EASTFIELD drummer but nifty guitarist and pin-up to boot. Following this latest Dr.Who transformation,, two young ladies were heard to comment, prior to a gig; “No, it can’t be THE BUS STATION LOONIES - They’re all attractive!” The recent additions of Dur and Ladiesmann were obviously paying dividends, as were Popkids and Wheelie’s monkey gland treatment.
All good things come to an end and, despite some great gigs which amounted in near police riots (they don’t like punks dancing around them, singing songs about Harry Roberts, even after all this time), Sam left to pursue a more worthy career in beer, while Ben buzzed off to New Zealand (is it something we say?). This left the door open to Steve S.Punk (S PUNK 3/HELL LET LOOSE) and “Dirty” Gav Sanchez (DIRTY SANCHEZ) on bass and guitar respectively. The band have just started gigging again for the first time in 6 months. We had a practice for the first time in even longer last week. Some of it will result in this album.
And it’s still fun, even though Tony Popkids and Chris Wheelie seem stuck with each other, as it was with that first snowed-in band rehearsal. At least Dancin’ Dave saw the signs and had the sense to bugger off.
STOP PRESS! Dirty Gav is the latest in a long line of Loonies to successfully tunnel his way out. Last seen flying somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle. We are currently without a guitar hero and would welcome anyone who feel like slumming it. Ability to do twiddly bits, act like an over-inflated axe-god and sing lots a bonus, but by no means essential. You don't have to be Plymouthian to work here, but it helps. Chris@doanythingyou.wanadoo.co.uk should path your way to the road to rack and ruin.
STOP STOP PRESS! (August 2005) Following the insane rush of eager potential guitarists, we've had to make do with the only offer. Step forward, Angus Old, landlord of The Nowhere Inn and strummer mundane. Wheelie is chuffed as, for the first time, he is the youngest member of the band, who now have a combined age of 159.
The anniversary album will happen before the end of the year, otherwise it just ain't a 10th anniversary album.
I got news for you, it ain't a 10th anniversary album, 'cos it's not happening until the New Year.
The Far East tour is less than a year away (July/August 2006)... Korea, Japan and Thailand thus far. Thanks Geena!
Special thanks to Citizen Fish, P.M.T., S Punk 3, The Rock Tigers, Eastfield, Combat Shock, Gorgeous, Anal Beard, The Fish Brothers, Gob Dylan, UK Subs, Breakout, S.L.O.T., Disorder, Hacksaw, Profane, The Once Over Twice, Chester, Poundaflesh, Denada, Mortified, Flick, P.A.I.N., Falik, The Spider Babies, Selwyn Froglet, The Chineapple Punx, Ciderfex, Thingy, Forced Entry, Blyth Power, Smiling With Semtex, The Natural Disasters, Cause For Concern, Farce, The Restarts, Haywire, Demented Are Go, Menace, The Stratford Mercenaries, The Cult Maniax, Riot/Clone, Subhumans, Kismet HC, Fuck Hate Propaganda, Egg Raid, Beergut 100, Fungi Gone West, M.D.M., Rev Porl, Fleas and Lice, Piss Tank Twat, Police Bastard, Sensa Yuma, Cupid Stunt, and , of course, The Filth. For no other reason than it makes us look like we've got lots of punk mates, and may help geeks stumble upon this site during a websearch.
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Stuff We Can No Longer Live With
We've still plenty of vinyl copies of "Mad Frank's Zonal Disco"LP (and very few limited on CD still available but hurry, we aint allowed to repress 'em due to an extremely soaking wet blanket). Then there's them Luminous Green Drunk Punk Logo T-Shirts on Black (in s,m,l,xl and xxl), tapes, split EPs, comp LPs, etc., etc., etc.For all that kinda junk plus plenty more besides, drop us a line c/o Ruptured Ambitions, Old Forge Cottage, Rushford, Lamerton, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8RY, England, or
take a trip to:
It's Gonna get Worse...
HARAKIRI KARAOKE (cheesey one-man splinter group solo project, with Wheelie showing himself up even more with the most ridiculous ferry cruise style keyboard versions of Dead Kennedys, Crass, ATV, Peni, Screeching Weasel, Vom etc., as you'll never want to hear 'em again!)-plus the most hideous waistcoat in the world! Watch this silly little space at the bottom of the page.Keep sending in requests and threats on the guestbook - Love'n'Laughs, Chris Wheelie
If you wanna get in touch, just click on the contacts page...
Spare us! Click here for the HARAKIRI KARAOKE Site!