Punk in East Leeds

pozz and tony raper

Pozz & Tony Raper with Joe Strummer (RIP)

 

Rewind the cassette back to late-1977 and you’ll hear the soundtrack of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee backed by the Sex Pistols. You’d probably have to fast forward it a little to about 1978 before you’d find much about Punk made in Leeds. But when it did happen, it caused a minor tremor and surprisingly East Leeds – particularly Leeds 14 and 15 – seemed to be the epicentre.

Roger Turnbull, a veteran of the East Leeds music scene has a simple explanation:

“There was a stage at Crossgates Methodist Youth Club -The Meff. We had somewhere to play, so we could take it out of the garage. It didn’t matter if you could play or not, there was nobody there who’d say not today lads.”

Roger played in F3 and To Be Continued but undoubtedly it was his third band, Icon who along with the Abrasive Wheels made the biggest impact. Icon, who later became Icon AD sprang out of Temple Moor High School.

Guitarist Craig Sharp-Weir takes up the story:

”Initially we just played locally and made no big impact apart from upsetting the local media. We noticed an advert in the music press placed by Anarchist Punk band/label Crass, who were planning to release an album of unknown bands. We sent them a track called “Cancer” which was accepted and released on the Bullshit Detector album,

picture from mick lake

Don’t Feed us Shit

one thing led to another and we signed to the Radical Change label.
 
We released an EP – the snappily titled ‘Don’t Feed us Shit’ which peaked at number two in the indie charts. Next came John Peel sessions a nationwide tour and the Single  which actually outsold the EP. We always used black and white imagery on the singles covers and insisted on a ‘pay no more than’ sticker.”   
 
Backs distribution who financed Radical Change were impressed with the band and wanted them to cross over to more mainstream Punk, release records with full colour covers and at the full price. Amazingly, rather than compromise their principles the band split up.

 

Shonna singer of the Abrasive Wheels has happy memories of the period:

”We played our first gigs at the Meff. It was real grassroots stuff, proper punk I guess. The audience were family, friends and all the local Punks.  We put the ABW EP out on our own Abrasive label. It was picked up and distributed by Red Rhino. It sold out of it’s 3000 pressing and went to number 35 in the indie charts. We were signed by Riot City Records and released three singles and an album before moving on to Clay Records. The band always appreciated we had a loyal following, that’s why we put them on the cover of “When the Punks Go Marching In” – our first album. After another three singles and a second album – “Black Leather Girl” – we called it a day in late ’84.  We were touring the UK, Europe and beyond. The first time we toured America we couldn’t believe it, there were massive displays in record shops, posters everywhere, we were playing to 5000 a night.”

 

Mick Lake now lives in Kiev and is the guitarist for the Death Valley Screamers (see East Leeds Magazine, issue10):

”The best East Leeds punk bands (not including my own of course) were The Urban Zones, The Noise, Icon and The Abrasive Wheels. My first band which started in 1979 was called Function 3 (shortened to F3) which eventually had a full line-up consisting of my brother John on vocals, Roger Turnbull on bass, his cousin Sam on drums and myself on guitar. In the early days, before Sam joined, we did an impromptu performance at the legendary F Club which was run by the also legendary John Keenan.
The only reason we played was because we’d gone to see The Professionals (Steve Jones and Paul Cook’s band after The Pistols). Steve Jones had disappeared – apparently holed up in some boozer, and so the band couldn’t play. I asked John Keenan if F3 could play a couple of songs and he OK’d it. He announced us as ‘F3 and they don’t have a drummer’, at which point Paul Cook stepped forward and offered to play for us. We looked at each other, then came together to form a little scrum and whisper our thoughts to each other as Paul stood waiting. Then we turned to him and said ‘Thanks Paul, but we’d rather do it without drums’. Cook looked shocked at our decision and strolled back to his seat. I sometimes wonder if it was the right decision, but can honestly say we must be one of the only bands ever to turn down Paul Cook. As it happens, the manager of my present band was recently in touch with Paul Cook and talked of a possible visit to Kiev, where I now live, with a view to doing a gig here. I wonder if we meet again, if he will remember F3 the band that said ‘Thanks Paul, but no thanks’.”
The last word goes to former Abrasive Wheels roadie Tony Raper-Dimery:

“Everyone seemed to be in a band then, War Zone, 2TV, Rouge, The Dead Vaynes, loads came and went, just played just one night and never got round to another. I went all over Britain with the Abrasive Wheels, met loads of interesting people, some I’m still in touch with now. I’ve got a mortgage and kids of my own now.  When I see kids these days with their jeans half way down their back sides, I can’t help but think how embarrassed they’ll be in a few years. I look back on pictures then and there’s no regrets, we stuck two fingers up at Maggie’s Britain, had a brilliant soundtrack to our teens and didn’t half look good doing it!”

12-punk

punk in east leeds

© East Leeds Magazine 2011

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4 Comments

  1. John Irvine says:

    Put Maggie Thatcher on the Dole, Put Maggie Thatcher on the Dole, Put Maggie Thatcher on the Dole, strip her now of her role.
    Great song another great article.

    • sie bloom lead singer War Zone says:

      i wrote,sang and meant every word of that manic anthem!hope you enjoyed the rest of our rants!!!!!

      • Ey up Sie…Gwinny here…long f****n time no see…i heard thru the grapevine that ya not been very well…sorry to hear mate

  2. I dj’d at the Meff for years, Weds and Fri’s, remember putting those gigs on at times, flower bombs and all. Great to see the photos and articles, remember lots of the old gang.

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