Little over 40 years ago, the North East was caught up in a mood and a spirit of rebellion. In the 70s and 80s Punk was creative, exciting and a little out of the ordinary. It challenged captured the imagination of a whole generation of teenagers, some who went on to form their own bands inspired by an era of Joy Division and Stiff Little Fingers. An era that saw The Clash tackle issues of social displacement, racial conflict and unemployment and The Sex Pistols stick two fingers up to Thatcher’s establishment.
Nobody expected the Punk movement to have as big a social impact as it did, so when the movement died out in the late 90s no-one really expected the genre to become popular again. “I would argue that now is the perfect time for some kind of big movement similar to that of the punk movement in the 80’s”, Antony Bircham, says passionately.
“If you look at everything that is going on with Brexit and the life we may face outside of the EU, young people may see a life with no prospects much like life back then, band mate Marcia Mackman, adds in agreement, before taking a sip of extra strong coffee and placing a guitar to one side. The band have taken some much- needed time out from their rehearsals for the launch party at Jumpin’ Jacks to celebrate their second album.
Growing up with The Smiths during the height of the punk movement in the 80s, it is fair to say that punk is very much in their DNA. Having been in and out of many different bands over the years, Antony, a man who openly describes himself as a “greying, thinning 40-something Geordie in the perfect condition to rock out”, has tried a number of times to get a major punk band project off the ground-but to no avail, that is until now.
“For me it was a totally back to front way of starting a band”, he says, grinning. “Normally you would form a whole band first then begin writing, we [Marcia and I] wrote 14 or 15 songs which we recorded for our first album and we had the entire first album recorded before we put the band together”, Marcia adds proudly.
“It wasn’t until we wanted to play live that we actually started to think about putting the band together and looking for others to join.” For an ordinary band this would seem completely out of the norm, however with a name like The Band For Disease Control and Prevention, it would appear that ordinary is not their style. “We’re pretty ruthless and lacking sentiment when it comes to song writing.
“As soon as something starts to sound like someone else we tend to scrap it and move on. We just do what we do!” remarks Antony. A sentiment which some may say sums up their next album Human versus Devil adequately indeed. The 10-track album, recorded this time with the full band and not as a duo features British Actor Phil Davis of Poldark, Being Human and Vera fame on the title track.
The band who don’t believe in genre distinction aim to achieve only one thing with their music- to put their own stamp on the beloved punk genre- a sort of “alt -punk” if you will. “We don’t do guitar solos and we tend to avoid straight forward song structures”, says Marcia.
Unlike most up-and-coming bands these days, The Band for Disease Control and Prevention have an enormous of freedom and control over the music they make. “One of the many perks of having your own label”, grins Marcia. “We do things in our time frames with total control and don’t have to trawl around labels and be disappointed if nobody picks us up”.
Despite remaining relatively unknown the band have gradually amassed a growing fan base in the North East over the years having played multiple dates at the Riverside and The Cluny as well as supporting for The Buzzcocks last year at the 02 Academy in Newcastle.
Anthony and Marcia’s first interview in months comes at a particualry busy time for the band as they’re not only rehearsing for their forthcoming album launch party. “Our next big event after this is Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in August”, beams Marcia. “It’s the world’s biggest 4-day punk festival-the only one of its kind still going and we’re playing on Sunday Afternoon, August 6, which is really exciting,” explains Antony, enthusiastically. “Almost as exciting as supporting The Buzzcocks”, laughs Marcia.
Their debut slot at Rebellion in August will be followed a host of shows at the Riverside and Cluny as well as some shows in Leeds aimed at promoting their second album Human Versus Devil and getting their music noticed among a younger teenage audience.
Whether the band will choose to peruse a full career in the industry remains uncertain. They weren’t planning to make this a long-term career but are currently doing what they do because they love doing it and they are certainly kicking up a punk storm in the North East all over again.
Their second album Human Versus Devil is available to check out now !