Mercurial punk survivor Spizz made his debut at the
The record topped the
After the next single ‘No Room’ / ‘Spock's Missing’ notched advance orders totalling over 50,000 copies (the same figure that got the Artic Monkeys to No.1), the group - now touting themselves as Athletico Spizz 80 - signed to A&M and released their much-anticipated full-length top 10 LP debut 'Do a Runner'. Despite endless line-up shuffles, a brief tour of the U.S followed before the band returned home to record their second album ‘Spikey Dream Flowers’, credited to the Spizzles. However, the emergence of the New Romantic movement had altered the prevailing musical climate so severely that the record not only flopped, but after just two more singles, A&M cut the group loose altogether. As Spizzenergi: 2, they returned to Rough Trade for a pair of singles, ‘Mega City: 3’ and ‘Jungle Fever’ but despite the return of Pete Petrol the group suffered from management problems, and by 1983 Spizz had largely receded from the music scene to focus on painting, resurfacing only for a lone solo show billed as Spizzorwell. A year later, however, he organized a large-scale stage production dubbed The Last Future Show featuring a six-piece female backing group.
By 1985, the show had evolved into a cult-favourite night club attraction, although no record deals were yet forthcoming. A year later, Spizz signed on with members of the band Friends of Gavin, touring under the name Spizzsexual. Splitting with the group in 1987, he recorded a new rendition of ‘Where's Captain Kirk?’ and toured
How brilliant to be interviewing Spizz, who I first saw live in 1978 (wasn’t quite sure what to make of two strange men in tin hats supporting the Clash). Since then I’ve attended many Spizz shows including several in recent years.
I really don’t know where he gets his energy from. Let’s find find out....
Shelley - Your first appearance was 31 years ago at Barbarella’s. Had you been in bands before this and what type of music did young Spizz listen to?
Spizz - In 1975 the final year of school, I formed a band with class mates who had some instruments. I having none, assumed the role of singer and borrowed the school microphone. Permitted to play in the science room at lunchtimes, other classmates gathered to watch and at the end of term disco, a short set was performed. I wanted to call the band 'Blast' but the others preferred 'Black S.W.O.R.D.' after our surname initials: Spizz, Whetton, O'Dowd, Rose and Davies. (O’Dowd later became Pete Petrol).
My first LP's which I started buying from 1973 included Bowie’s Ziggy, Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, then Roxy Music’s first and For Your Pleasure, Lou Reed’s Transformer and Best of Velvet Underground. 1974 - Billion Dollar Babies (Alice Cooper), Brian Eno’s first with Fripp, No Pussyfooting,
I liked records my two elder brothers bought including The Who, Family, Thin Lizzy, Jimi Hendrix, Free, Bad Company, Tamla Motown and Soul compilations. Basically I was attracted to rock and glams ‘Art-rockers’ I didn’t really like Slade, Sweet, Glitter, Mud, Quatro, T-Rex or other commercial chart fodder
Shelley - Were you a regular at the club? Any interesting stories to tell about Brum’s main punk haunt?
Spizz - Yes Barbarellas was great and scary as punks had the small room downstairs at first and ‘straights’ (people with jobs who started fights and were usually football hooligans) had the main bit. When it became obvious to the owners which way the wind was blowing they started booking punk bands. There was a pre-punk Roxy/Bowie posers club (club name escapes me, for the moment) on the
Shelley - The pre punk posers club on
Spizz - Yes that was it.
Shelley - Spizz Oil supported the Clash with Suicide in 1978. How did this occur?
Spizz - After doing a couple of gigs with Model Mania, whose manager Wayne Myers was the DJ at Barbarellas, I became aware of local promoter Dave Corke and somehow he offered me some humping work. Sounds rude but that was the term used for the extra help for roadies at gigs. He needed some more lads and I became a gang master. I found three other lads (Frank, Biffo and Tibs) to hump gear in and out of venues- £4 in, £4 out, £8 each (nice), plus we had access to the roadies beers and got to see the shows. I would pester him for support slots and as he was tour promoter for The Clash… I finally got a chance. I was also involved in the fly postering for the ‘Clash On Parole’ tour and became the unpaid office boy manning the office from 10am until about noon when an Endale Associate - Mike Barnett, Dave Corke or whatisname (the other associate whose name escapes me) would come in and take over. Sometimes Corky (Dave Corke) would get me to answer the phone and say he was not in. Sometimes it was an angry Bernie Rhodes at the other end of the line!
Shelley - Dare I ask- was it distressing when the audience became hostile (although Suicide came off worse)?
Spizz - After my initial victorious first gig I frequently got hostile reactions as did regular headline acts. I took it in my stride, that this was normal and because of my art history studies I took this to be what ‘we creative types’ can expect from ‘the masses’. The people need to be educated, I was an artist misunderstood in my own time ;-). I came off stage thinking that was a little tough and then Suicide’s singer Alan Vega came and said I was awesome, brave and brilliant (maybe it’s a duo’s thing). I now went to see what sort of show they put on and I thought “fuck me he’s ten times wilder” and therefore they got a terrible reception.
Shelley - Recollections of your first Peel session?
Spizz - Very exciting, huge studio and memories of seeing these places on TV’s Old Grey Whistle Test etc. This was the BBC.
Shelley - Is it true that you were Rough Trade’s debut signing?
Spizz - I think we were the third release by Rough Trade and there was no contract. Our manager and Geoff Travis just agreed to press up some discs and see how it went. In researching for my autobiography I have come across some SPIZZOIL statements of March 1979 (pre SPIZZENERGI) from our manager with all his deductions:
Income since last statement total £887.47
Minus management commission, a £10 fee to Palmolive, rehearsals, strings, restaurant, hotel, Pete’s guitar case etc. = £701.66
Payment to Spizz & Pete £92 each.
Not much for 3-4 months eh?
Shelley - The third time I saw the band (now named Athletico Spizz 80) was at Digbeth Civic Hall. Memories are foggy. Any idea who supported?
Spizz - It was either Department S or Tenpole Tudor. I can check but it may take some time. My best guess is Department S
Shelley - I read that REM recorded ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ as a fan club members gift some time ago. Is it very different from the original version?
Spizz - It sounds like they copied the ‘URGH! A music War’ movie version and its more like a rehearsal thrash with a little Star Trek samples dubbed over the beginning and the end.
You can listen to it here: http://mp3shake.com/en/album/R_E_M_/Rare_Frequencies-14321/
Scroll down to the bottom and click the left play symbol
Shelley - The current Spizzenergi have been together since the 90’s. How did you meet the others?
Spizz - My partner Judi managed a Xerox copy center St. Pauls (right opposite the Cathedral- now demolished) and the sales team were to become my bassist and guitarist. Judi, Matt and Simon skived off the afternoon and we sat around viewing my old videos and shared a bottle Jack Daniels. They said if I could find a drummer they’d learn the stuff. We struggled for a while and then in 1996 with the first Cherry Red CD compilation ‘Spizz Not Dead Shock’ my original bassist Jim Solar suggested the Gutter Brothers drummer Jeff Walker (pictured right) http://www.gutterbrothers.co.uk/images/history/gb_87.jpg
Shelley - Any thoughts about releasing a new LP?
Spizz - I would love to make an LP with the new songs I have continued to write but I do not have any funds. There is no queue of financial backers beating a path to my door (or MySpace).
Shelley - There are more gigs planned for
Spizz - I was at the fabulous Carbon/Silicon gigs at the Inn on the Green (3-5 Thorpe Close
Shelley - You have boundless energy both onstage and off. Is it difficult to find time for maintaining websites, artwork, an Ebay shop, etc.
Spizz - Yes it is difficult. I only have the time when my children are at school.
Shelley - Does anyone assist with these projects?
Spizz - Well you can count my partner Judi who provides the roof over our head and the food in our fridge. The band for being my band and people like Paul Hallam and anyone who has bought my records, t-shirt, paintings and especially the regular attendees of my gigs (sorry they are mostly London-centric but again its down to funds).
Shelley - Please tell us about the art exhibition in
Spizz- I’m expecting a call today but have not received it so I can’t elaborate on that yet.
Shelley - You’re currently presenting on Cherry Red TV, how did this materialise?
I am the obvious choice - ahem ;-) Plus I do have some previous experience
Shelley - Ever thought about becoming an actor or been asked to take part in a reality TV show?
Spizz - Yes I was in Breaking Glass with Hazel O’Connor. Athletico Spizz 80 members Jim Solar, Mark Coalfield and myself play her first band that she fires, filmed at the Hope & Anchor North London, followed by a fight that became a real punch up. I managed to sink nine pints to get into the part of drummer. No I have not been approached by Endemol.
Shelley - I know an autobiography is in the pipeline. Do you plan to pen this yourself?
Spizz - I am currently preparing some sample pages and a friend who designed my first website is helping and editing etc. I've got some meetings with publishers scheduled.
Shelley - Any personal music recommendations for Mudkiss readers?
Spizz - My daughter has brought my attention to My Chemical Romance and I love them too.
Shelley - Finally, will there be more gigs after the
Spizz - I have a meeting with an agent and I hope this leads to spots in some festivals in 2009.
Thanks so much to Spizz for sharing some very amusing stories. For more info check out:
Spizz’s website- a fantastic resource http://www.spizzenergi.com/
Spizzenergi on MySpace http://www.myspace.com/442okcom
Spizz’s page http://www.myspace.com/spizzenergi
INDIE CASINO @ INN ON THE GREEN, THURS 16th OCTOBER + SPECIAL GUESTS: THE PRISCILLAS (on stage ) myspace.com/thepriscillas SPIZZENERGI (on stage ).
Currently working on Spizz the Autobiography (any Spizz stories and title suggestions seriously considered).
Photo’s from Filthy Macnastys by Shelley and Phil Guild