Punk, agit-prop, local gigs, belated appearance on an anarcho punk CD and post-punk vinyl album.
Fired by punk, the first band I formed was Untermensch. I was 16. Lots of friends passed through but the core line-up was Jim Stringer (vocals), Dave Taylor (bass), Terry Eves (keyboards), Rob Taylor (drums) and me (guitar). We were very earnest, political, passionate and wanted to meld The Cure, Joy Division and Crass. As befits the times, we were ‘multi-media’. We published four fanzines, also called ‘Untermensch’ (below), and released cassette ‘albums’ (one was called The Grave) and compilation tapes, among them Industrial Asylum.
Jim has contributed this short biography of Untermensch to various websites:
Formed in the gritty Northern industrial wasteland of Rochdale, Untermensch were the archetypal voice of intelligent, creative youth who knew exploitation, subjugation, marginalisation and a bent Tory Government when they saw one. As those at a decaying society’s margins were scooped together in rotting high rise cesspools and left to fend for/destroy themselves, they felt first-hand the tightening fist of Thatcherism – and the reciprocal cold thud of an angry Doc Martin in the spuds. As the song says – “This is 1982. This is sick” Indeed, Untermensch were archetypal angry young men themselves. In a bleak world of mass unemployment, simmering rebellion, nuclear threat and social breakdown, they were against everything, everywhere all the time. In a scary, difficult age, it was a good place to be. And it still is.
Jim made a video to accompany the Untermensch track, Ashfield Valley Headkick (the estate is pictured below). It’s here:
The song was included, many years later, on a compilation album, Anti Society: Anarcho Punk Vol.3, released by Overground Records in February, 2006. Details:
The tracks El Salvador and The Sociology Man (wrongly listed on the record as Sociology) were featured on the album It Started in Rochdale released by Ozit Records, May 2008).
Details: click here
Ashfield Valley Headkick is featured on Greater Manchester Punk Vol 2 – Now We Are Heroes. Available from Rough Trade.
I did a lengthy interview with Ian Glasper, the author of The Day The Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk, 1980-1984, and he ran a three-page feature which sums us up perfectly. More details click here
The absolute rule of rock is that every decent band should have a side-project, spin-off type ensemble and Untermensch had The Wodentops. I ‘managed’ them. Here they are below (from left: Steven Roberts, Terry Eves, Dave Taylor and John Abraham) pictured, amazingly, in the Rochdale Observer.
The Wodentops didn’t play instruments but whacked away at metal and wood while a tape of mating whales (oh yes) played in the background. We ‘retired’ after a concert in Rochdale where the situationist nature of the performance was mistaken for a free-for-all. Locals started smashing beer glasses on the floor. A door was burned, symbolically of course.
Terry had mapped out much of The Wodentops’ image. Below is one of his illustrations of their stage-wear. Not at all weird.
We formed a (kind of) co-operative called Asylum Music. The idea was to organise concerts, publish fanzines and support other groups. The Manchester Evening News ran a piece about us (below). In the picture Steven Roberts is holding up the compilation tape, Industrial Asylum. Steven died in a road accident in Taiwan several years later.
Thirty six years since first forming, one of our number became Lord Mayor of York, representing – radical early politics duly upheld – the Green Party: Lord Mayor Opens Up