The Road to Rebellion
I want to tell you a story.
When I was 12 my parents bought me a skateboard. It was an amazing skateboard. A Skuda Californian. It had fabulous trucks, SK-3 wheels – probably the fastest wheels you could buy at the time – incredible in a straight line but more than a little dodgy trying to turn a corner. I loved it. It cost them a lot of money back in the day – 1976.
A few months later our family were watching TV – the Today show with Bill Grundy, and he was interviewing a new band called the Sex Pistols. It was live TV and, well, the interview is all over YouTube so you can see for yourself what happened. Mum and Dad were not impressed. This young boy was pretty much mesmerised. I couldn’t believe they’d been on live TV swearing like that.
The Road to Rebellion started that day.
Seven months or so later, I was at school hearing that the band released an album. I had no money. So I did a thing. I sold that amazing skateboard for £5 to my mate. Took my £5 to the local record shop in Haywards Heath (Mastersound) and bought a copy of Never Mind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols. Raced home upstairs, and dropped the needle on the record. Out of the speakers came the sound of marching, then an explosive power chord, and suddenly the riff of Holidays in the Sun began, and Johnny’s vocals followed. I turned my record player up some more and danced around my bedroom (not too much, the needle would jump if I went too crazy – I’m sure some of you reading this are remembering times just like this). Turned it up a bit more, now blaring out around the house. But then Bodies started, and Johnny started dropping F-Bombs all over the place. I raced across to the volume knob and turned it down to hear my Mum calling upstairs “David! What the hell are you listening to?”
I told her and also had to come clean about the skateboard.
As time passed musical ‘tribes’ formed. You were either a Rocker, Mod, Punk, Skinhead, Rockabilly, and later a New Romantic. I was a Rocker. Uniform – leather biker’s jacket and a denim ‘cut-down’ covered in band patches. It was easy to make a mistake and be viewed as a ‘Plastic Rocker’ by the Rocker Elders if you even gave any indication of liking any other music but Rock. Looking back this was all totally loopy, but it was real to us kids. My oldest friend was a Punk – he’d lost himself to Punk music more than me and was affectionately known as “Punky’ throughout the school. I remember sitting in his room while he played me the latest single of the UK Subs, X Ray Specs, Stiff Little Fingers, The Ruts, and the Clash. Then later, songs from the Anti Nowhere League, Exploited, and Discharge. Inside I loved them, but rules were rules and I was a Rocker, so I could never be totally enthusiastic.
There was an edge to that music. I loved and still love Whitesnake, Rainbow, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest. But play those bands after listening to Alternative Ulster, and they always sounded very polished, very, sensible. There was Motorhead, of course, who always strode the line between Punk and Metal. Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal made inroads into a more Punk attitude, but it wasn’t really until Thrash arrived with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, that I really felt that the Punk influence poured into Rock music. Then it blossomed with bands like Slipknot and now the energy of Punk, proper old-school Punk, flows right through the veins of modern Metal music.
Last weekend I played my Pagan music at the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool. It was an absolutely incredible festival. I followed Millie Manders’ set – she had the whole hall packed out. I said to her as she came off stage, “Why did they have to put me on after you!” She was very supportive – they were a fabulous crowd. And they were. I played my songs and was so happy to see lots of people in the audience singing along. People danced, cheered – I had the most amazing time.
And if I really had a time machine, I’d go back and talk to that 12-year-old Dave who had just dropped the needle on Never Mind the Bollocks. I’d say to him, keep learning that guitar, keep writing songs, don’t ever give up, because one day you will be on the same poster and line-up as New Model Army, as The Only Ones, Ruts DC, Rezillos.
Never give up a dream.