The Invasive Species, The Stutter
The Mob formed around Yeovil in Somerset, England, around the beginning of 1978. The band at this time consisted of Mark (guitar, vocals and songwriter), Graham (drums), and Curtis (bass and backing vocals). They played local halls and did not go too far out of the west country region at this early time in the band’s history.
A lot of the early gigs were attended by local meatheads, and there was quite a bit of hostility shown from some members of the audience, towards the band and their friends, which sometimes ended in violence. The Mob did blag a slot on the 1978 Stonehenge festival, which they supported and performed at during the next couple of years.
The following year, 1979, the band’s gigs opened up quite a bit, the band went on the road with Here and Now who drew a quite different audience than the ‘bored youngsters’ that would cause trouble in youth clubs in and around Yeovil. The band also experienced playing their first European gigs with Here And Now in Holland, towards the end of the year, and got to know the members and hangers on of the free festival scene, the band again played the summer solstice Stonehenge festival.
The band’s first single Crying Again 7″ was recorded in the winter of 1979 at Crypt Studios in Stevenage, by Here And Now’s soundman, and resident Street Level Studios engineer, Grant Showbiz.
The record was put out on their own All The Madmen Records label, with the help of Max who saved up a lot of the cash to put the single out in the early months of 1980.
At this time there was a small explosion of various local like minded individuals who had started bands and began to organise their gigs with The Mob. Some of the friends included Geoff, who had the original All The Madmen fanzine based at his parents house, where most of the friends would hang out without too much grief from Geoff’s parents.
The record label name was a continuation of the fanzine name, as the fanzine was dying down a bit by then. Debbie (who went on to form My Bloody Valentine in the mid 1980’s) and Christine from The Bikini Mutants were regular friends as was Wilf who supplied the artwork for a lot of the releases on All The Madmen and all The Mobs output in particular. The Androids Of Mu were also close to The Mob at this time.
This first record was sold via All The Madmen fanzine, at gigs, and also at Acorn Records, which is in fact still in Yeovil to this day.
The next single Witch Hunt 7″ was recorded in the summer of 1980 at Spaceward in Cambridge, and had a much bigger impact, reaching further out via the network of fanzines growing up in the rise of Crass and bands of that ‘scene’. Also John Peel played it a bit, and just about everybody’s first experience of The Mob, if you were outside their immediate local area, was this single. At the start there is a blood-curdling scream, this scream was used on the ansa-phone message when ringing up Geoff’s house in Larkhill Road from then on! Probably not now though, so please do not try.
More local gigs followed, also a small ‘free’ tour in the vein of what Here And Now were promoting a year earlier. This tour was called Weird Tales and included The Mob, The Astronauts, Zounds, Andriods Of Mu plus any local bands that happened to be in the area the tour had got to that day…A few tracks still exist on tape of this era, mostly on Kif Kif’s cassette label Fuck Off Rekcords (Tribute To Bert Weeden and a little later on, Folk In Hell) being two of them, worth listening to.
The band played the Stonehenge free festival in 1980, unfortunately this was the year when some trouble brewed up during the day from some violent biker gangs who did not have the patience to listen to ‘punk’ music specifically Crass who were to play there set later on in the evening. The Snipers and The Mob got off lightly, but when The Epileptics (soon to be renamed Flux Of Pink Indians) were performing the trouble started and many people were hurt in the clashes. Zounds, Poison Girls and Crass did not even get to perform (although both Crass and Poison Girls successfully played this same festival the year before with no trouble whatsoever!), as the promoters and the sound guy, Grant Showbiz, could not guarantee the safety of these bands or the punks who had come to see them perform.
In the later months of 1980, Mark and Curtis moved up to London, Graham had decided to stay in Yeovil so the band were in need of a new drummer. After trying out Adie (from Null And Void) and a guy called Tim, they recruited drummer Josef Porter (also playing for Zounds and Entire Cosmos).
On the back of the popularity of the Witch Hunt single, and with the new drummer in place, they got together to record some tracks to be released on cassette format. The tape was recorded in Josef’s bedroom in Brougham Road, Hackney and was eventually entitled Ching. This basic recording was sold at gigs and through mailorder to people writing to the band.
The band caught the attention of Penny Rimbaud, drummer and writer for the seminal anarcho-punk band Crass, who recruited them for a single on Crass Records.
No Doves Fly Here 7″ is not quite like anything else the Mob ever recorded. This is partly because of the tune’s violently slow pace and vivid anti-war lyrics. It’s also due to the production tweaks added later by Rimbaud at Southern Studios in North London, including his famous sound clips and a very prominent synth track that the band hadn’t expected, and at the time it really pissed the band off. There are test pressings of the original drum and bass version around, which sounds decent enough, but I think what Penny tried to do, does add emotion to this track, and the tracks sounds better for the tweaking, that is just my view though and I also like and respect Penny very much!
The intense power of the song, combined with Crass’ better distribution via Rough Trade, ensured this release to be in the top 5 of the then independent charts for several weeks.
They played the infamous ZigZag squat gig in December 1982, along with some of the best in the anarcho-punk scene including Omega Tribe, Faction, Dirt, Null And Void, Lack Of Knowledge, The Apostles, Conflict, Poison Girls, D and V, and Crass themselves.
In the autumn of 1982, The Mob recorded some tracks at Spaceward with the financial help of Alistair and Mick Lugworm. The product was released by All the Madmen Records, early the following year, in the spring of 1983, with the backing of Geoff Travis of Rough Trade, who saw the potential in dealing with this band / label for his organisation.
The Let The Tribe Increase album was a milestone for The Mob, and for the ‘scene’ that the band had been lumped into against their wishes. The band never wanted any labels pushed onto them, although they had respect for all the individuals that they crossed paths with, bands, writers, activists etc. The album is considered a ‘classic’ by many 1000’s of people around the world, and rightly so.
The release came with stunning artwork (borrowed if we are to be polite, from Alternative TV’s second album’s Vibing Up The Senile Man – The ATV album nobody liked, because it was not fast and did not have enough fuzz boxes on it!), and a huge poster…The original artwork that was considered would have been too expensive to print so the band went for the cheaper two colour option instead.
The album hit the top 3 in the independent charts with the help of the fanzine writers and the music weeklies of the time which in no small way was down to Alistair and Tony D from Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine pushing the album whenever and wherever they could, including getting a cover and centre spread of Punk Lives magazine which had quite a large circulation at the time. Also The Mob playing to such colourful audiences at Centro Iberico and Meanwhile Gardens, and a host of other ‘off the circuit’ venues helped to push the record. Furthermore bands like Blood And Roses, Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult and Brigandage were getting positive publicity at the time, and The Mob were generally regarded as a similar sort of band attitude wise, esp in the better fanzines like Kill Your Pet Puppy and Vague, as well as the music weeklies.
The final Mob release was the Mirror Breaks 7″ again recorded at Spaceward and released in the summer of 1983. Musically it was one of the prettier songs that the band had attempted, but with the same feel and some of the best lyrics of any Mob song in the set at the time.
This single was selling very well, as was the album, what better time to knock it on the head, and get something else done than at the pinnacle of the band…Mark decided a couple of months after a European tour in the winter of 1983, to put down his guitar, put his teepee in the truck, and roam around the countryside, originally with The Peace Convoy, then later settling down near Bath with his young family. Bowing out at the top was a sensible thing to have done, and the band’s legacy is greater for it.
Josef and Curtis continued together with Blyth Power until those old friends split up late 1986. Josef carried on Blyth Power for many years with different line ups, and they still play a few times a year. Curtis became a succesful chef and hopefully will own his own restaurant in the future, in Wales. Josef is now in charge of testing models (toys not girls) for a magazine, Mark has a van parts business, buying and selling. Wilf, the artist and close friend to all the band, passed away in the late 1990’s.
All the Madmen continued though under Alistairs guidance after Mark had disappeared in 1984, He helped release the Astronauts album in late 1983, Flowers In The Dustbin 12″ and Zos Kia 7″ in 1984. Rob Challice from Faction, took the label over in 1985 and released a whole heap more until early 1988, see All The Madmen Records myspace for details of all the release’s on the label…
Thanks for reading,
Mickey ‘Penguin’ x
The Invasive Species
Brand spankin’ new hardcore punk out of Philadelphia. Insane 80s worship with lots of stop-and-go and fast fast fast. You know… How hardcore is supposed to be played. If you dig bands like Koro, White Cross, or Amdi Petersens Arme (not 80s I know) then this is absolutely for you. Members of Dark Thoughts, Fuck SS, Loose Nukes, Machine Gun, etc.
— GISM 2 on YouTube