Vague 1

Vague #7
 
November 1979
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Adam and the Ants
The Cure – The Ruts – Two Tone & Rough Trade

 

‘Every day the seditious seeds planted by Sniffin’ Glue and Ripped & Torn bear some unlikely fruit. Every day another young editor staggers proudly under the Westway with a new bag of radical reading matter, making the three minute trip from one bright spark of the current explosion, Better Badges, to the other, Rough Trade. In every corner of the country there seems to be something going on… Wiltshire’s Vague (misprinted Vauge)…’ Simon Dwyer Sounds

‘Vague covers a boring Salisbury-Bournemouth sort of area with enthusiasm.’ Kris Needs Zigzag ‘Vague is growing a deserved reputation as one of the best about; in fact could prove the eventual successor to Ripped & Torn. It’s frequently scruffy, badly printed and incomplete, but must be the most regular fast-growing fanzine about.’ Tony Fletcher Jamming “The kids like it.” Adam Ant

In 1978 I went back to Salisbury Tech College to do a building studies course and duly started Vague fanzine; for something to do, other than attempting to play guitar or sing, rather than with any literary aspirations. The original Vague editorial team consisted of the cartoonist Perry Harris, the Dutch poser Iggy Zevenbergen, Sharon Clarkson and Chris Johnson from the art college, and Jane Austin and Christine Nugent from Mere. The first Vague office was Iggy and Sharon’s place on Nelson Road. Other notable figures on the early Salisbury punk rock scene were Terry Watley, Spanish Alf, Bournemouth Christine, the catering punks Martin Butler and Tim Aylet, the black post-punk artist Dave Somerville, Mike Muscampf (who went on to the goth group Dormannu), the punk jeweller Simon Loveridge, and our hippy correspondent Frank Stocker. Our local pub was the Star and later the Cathedral; the record shops were Derek’s in the George Mall and Wilmer’s.

Inspired by Tim Aylet’s Channel 4 fanzine, post-punk and reggae – Ants, Banshees, Joy Division, Pop Group, PIL, Slits – in 1979 we launched Vague on the world. The first few issues were co-edited by Perry, Iggy and me; I assumed more or less total editorial control by the 3rd or 4th issue with Jane and Chris Johnson as assistant editors. On the back cover of Vague 1, Iggy, Alf and Dave Somerville are pictured outside the common room between the tech and art colleges on Southampton Road. The first issue was designed and printed by Mark Cross from the art college, who went on to design album sleeves. The second issue was photocopied down Fisherton Street. Perry’s ‘Lovable Spiky Tops’ cartoons best documented the evolution of Vague and the Salisbury scene; attempting to put on gigs, avoiding bikers, Teds, rockabillies, squaddies, smoothies, young farmers, etc. A truce was arranged with the rockabillies in the Star after their American car pulled up by my Mini and we invited them for a drink in a fairly sincere ‘Kids United’ gesture. The punk girls almost scuppered the alliance
over the un-PC way the rockabilly girls were treated.

Vague wasn’t a punk rock fanzine historically speaking, it was post-punk, but it had authentic irreverent punk rock attitude, the real deal semi-literate stream of consciousness prose, and experimental DIY anti-style design. In issue 1 there were reviews/how drunk we got reports of the Banshees and the Cure at Southampton Gaumont; seeing Malcolm McLaren at the Ants and Classix Nouveaux at the Electric Ballroom; the Two-Tone tour featuring the Specials, Madness and Selecter; the Rough Trade Swell Maps and Red Crayola package tour in Bournemouth; and the Mere Youth Club punk festival featuring Stalag 44 from Warminster, the Sterile Androids and the short-lived Vague group the A303s named after the road. The first albums reviewed by Perry were the Banshees’ ‘Join Hands’, ‘The Specials’, the Ruts’ ‘The Crack’ and the Human League’s ‘Reproduction’: ‘The Human League are another one of those synthesiser bands…’ The first singles were the Slits’ ‘Typical Girls’, Kraftwerk’s ‘Showroom Dummies’ and the QTs’ ‘Savage in the City’.

The QTs

The first Vague interview with the Salisbury local heroes the QTs by Perry and Iggy: Perry: “What are the aims of the group?” Colin, QTs guitarist: “I’m going to get a drink.” Iggy: “Get me one too.” Pause. Iggy bites me. Perry: “Back to the QTs; what are the aims?” Colin: “To be famous and earn lots of money.” Perry: “What is the situation with your management?” Colin: “Spot on. He’s fat. He’s pretty big compared with other smaller management.” Perry: “How long have you been going?” Colin: “18 months on and off.” Perry: “What influences have you had?” Colin: “Our main influences are drugs and beer.” Perry: “Are you a pub band or would you prefer to play in halls?” Colin: “Basically we try and play where we can.” Perry: “What sort of gigs have you done?” Colin: “Mostly bad ones, we play in Salisbury, Basingstoke, Southampton. Basingstoke was the best one, I only got bottled twice.” Iggy: “What’s your favourite comic, mine’s Beezer?” Colin: “Fuck off.”

Swell Maps, Red Crayola and the Tours Rough Trade tour Bournemouth Town Hall by Chris Johnson

Red Crayola were good, Swell Maps were mediocre and the Tours were reputedly on stage at one point. I was not aware that Laura Logic was on sax for the Red Crayola set, and having seen Essential Logic with the Damned at the Lyceum I was not thrilled to hear it. However, she played more imaginatively and not at any time was I reminded of X-Ray Spex with whom she served a useful apprenticeship. It was more of a fun set than a serious musical contribution. I was also informed that this was due to their formation being a one-off string of appearances over a few months as well as a dash of recording ventures. The Swell Maps were received quite well after forcing their recognition during a pose among the punters. Cor! Wow! Hyperstars! Ugh! Their set I found boring, at best mediocre, being interspersed with Nelly and co using the stage for rehearsals for a forthcoming appearance on Come Dancing (supporting programme for the Southampton version of Grease – to be screened soon folks). The lager was quite good, insisting on an encore after a visit to the chippy. Oh and the Tours did a set.

Rough Trade

February 2 1979 The night Sid Vicious died I was at a Rough Trade/Rock Against Racism gig at Bournemouth Town Hall, featuring Stiff Little Fingers who played Bob Marley’s ‘Johnny Was’ for Sid, Essential Logic, Robert Rental and the Normal (Daniel Miller of Mute Records) doing ‘TVOD’. I remember wearing a grey mac and having a bust-up with Jane for over-commiserating Sid’s demise with Sharon. A few days later, when the tour stopped off under the Westway at Acklam Hall, the Rough Trade label released its first album, ‘Inflammable Material’ by Stiff Little Fingers.

The Rough Trade state of independents was founded in early 1976 when Geoff Travis moved into the hippy headshop at 202 Kensington Park Road in Notting Hill. Once inaugurated by a visit from the Ramones, the shopfront became the hangout hub of the punk and reggae scene. Most of the original Rough Trade customers were either starting a punk band, a fanzine or a reggae sound-system; including John Ingham (who edited the first Rough Trade Info newsletter and the Clash fanzine London’s Burning), Mark P (the editor of Sniffin’ Glue), Jon Savage (London’s Outrage) and Jane Suck. Rough Trade sold the New York photo-strip comic-fanzine Punk and became the mailing address/office of London’s photocopied answer, Sniffin’ Glue. The Deptford bank clerk Mark P (Perry)’s dispatches from the punk frontline, named after the ‘rock’n’roll habit’, inspired a deluge of Xeroxed efforts produced by punk fans; as opposed to uncritical fan newsletters; most of which were distributed by Rough Trade. At best punk fanzines were in the tradition of radical pamphlets, at worst DIY style mags or Big Issue prototypes.

After the release of the Buzzcocks’ ‘Spiral Scratch’ and the Desperate Bicycles’ EPs on their own indie labels, the backyard extension of the Rough Trade shop at 202 Kensington Park Road became the world distribution centre of independent punk labels, fanzines and reggae pre releases. Mark P started up his own independent punk label Step Forward with Miles Copeland, and formed his own band Alternative TV, after meeting Alex Ferguson (the then more famous punk guitarist, also later in Psychic TV) at Rough Trade. ATV were the first post-punk, DIY, avant-garde, indie band, at times merging into the indie/Industrial records of Genesis P Orridge’s Throbbing Gristle (later PTV). Tony D (Drayton) of Glasgow’s Ripped & Torn fanzine wrote of visiting Rough Trade with Sandy Robertson of White Stuff to listen to ‘The Ramones’ album, before going to see Generation X and Sham 69 at the Roxy. When Ripped & Torn relocated to London soon after, Tony used 202 Kensington Park Road as his postal address, as he took up the mantle from Mark P and set the pattern for the 80s music press.

The Rough Trade label was launched in early 1978 with the release of Metal Urbain’s ‘Paris Maquis’ single. Later in the year the Rough Trade gamut of reggae, experimental electronic, agitprop political, post, hardcore thrash and comic sci-fi punk was defined in their first batch of singles by Augustus Pablo, Cabaret Voltaire, Stiff Little Fingers, Subway Sect, Angelic Upstarts, and Spizz Oil. In the late 70s the Rough Trade co-operative group consisted of the founder/A&R man/post-punk guru Geoff Travis, the avant-garde managing director Mayo Thompson, Richard Scott (the former manager of the reggae group Third World who joined the Rough Trade ranks in 1977 to do distribution), the Raincoats’ manager Shirley O’Loughlin, Delta 5’s manager Sue Johnston, the other two Patti Smith-lookalike Sues, Scott and Donne – accounts/mail-order and fanzines respectively, Jill Sheehan and Pete Walmsley – pressing and booking, the American plugger Scott Piering (previously of Island) – promotion/publicity and tours. In the shop there was Jude Crichton and Pete Donne (who founded the new shop and label), with Ana from the Raincoats, Bruce, and Daniel Miller of the Normal/Mute.

As Thatcher came to power, Mark Perry (by then of the Good Missionaries) told Danny Baker (formerly of the Glue, then of the NME, since of radio and TV fame): “The truth is a rotten cliché; I enjoy Coronation Street and drinking in karseys like the Blenheim” (now the E&O restaurant). In another legendary moment in fanzine folklore, after 17 issues of Ripped & Torn fanzine, Tony D handed over editorship to Vermillion Sands (of Vermillion and the Aces, Illegal Records and the San Francisco fanzine Search & Destroy) ‘outside a pub in Portobello Road’ (probably the Blenheim). Vermillion (who was also some sort of Ballardian hells angel) produced a post-punk postscript Ripped & Torn, published by Miles Copeland’s Insult Design company, while Tony D went on a punk rock Down and Out in Paris trip. On his return, he began his next venture Kill Your Pet Puppy with: ‘Reality lies bleeding in Portobello Road. Can this really be the end?… Down and Out in London with amphetamine psychosis again.’ Kill Your Pet Puppy‘s dayglo litho coverage of life on pre-pop Adam and the Ants, Crass and Tuinol led the way from anarcho-psychedelic-punk to acid-house.

1979 January ‘Winter of discontent’ strikes against pay rise limit. January 8 Cambodia fell to the Vietnamese. January 16 The Shah of Iran went into exile. January 22 Adam and the Ants at the Electric Ballroom. January 31 Ants at Newport Stowaway Club on the ‘Young Parisians’ tour; Cardiff-Newport aggro. February 2 Stiff Little Fingers at Bournemouth Town Hall. Sid Vicious died. February 23 Public Image Limited and the Pop Group at Manchester Belle Vue. March 2 The Skids, Lene Lovich, etc at Bristol University. Met the Pop Group outside. March 7 The Cure at Bournemouth Town Hall. Bobby glassed Iggy. March 9 Straitjacket at Bournemouth Capones. March 29 Jim Callaghan called an election. March 30 The Tory Airey Neave was killed by an IRA car bomb. March 31 Three Mile Island atomic leak scare.

April 2 Cambodian killing fields were revealed. April 24 The anti-NF protester Blair Peach died from injuries inflicted by the SPG in Southall. May 4 Thatcher’s Tories won the election. June 17 The Damned and the Ruts at Bristol Locarno anti-punk soul boy riot. July 18 The Ants at Newport Stowaway on the ‘Zerox’ tour. July 20 Sandinista victory in Nicaragua. July 30 The Ants at Exeter Routes. ‘Are Friends Electric’ by Tubeway Army and ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ by the Boomtown Rats were number 1. August 18 The Who at Wembley. August 27 Lord Mountbatten was blown up by the IRA. August 29 Banshees at Bournemouth Stateside (formerly the Village) on the ‘Join Hands’ tour.

September 8 In our furthest expedition north yet, we saw John Lydon’s Public Image Limited and Joy Division at the first Futurama Sci-fi post-punk festival at Leeds. Chris Johnson scored a black bomber to stay awake and was out cold for Joy Division. The Yorkshire Ripper claimed his 12th victim. Jimmy Carter collapsed jogging. Cambodia aid effort was launched. September 17 Returned to Salisbury Tech College and founded Vague with Perry and Iggy. September 29 The Ants at the Electric Ballroom. ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan and ’Message in a Bottle’ by the Police were number 1. October 14 Siouxsie and the Banshees at Hammersmith Odeon. October 16 The Specials, Madness and Selecter at Bournemouth Stateside. October 21 The Mere Youth Club punk festival.

 

Tom Vague
(Vague Publishing, 1979)
 
now out of print