Vague 15

Vague #7
June 1984 The End of Music – Stop the City – Charles Manson
Getting the Fear – The Cult – The Church of the Sub-Genius
Greenham Common – American Indians – Xmal Deutschland – Nick Cave

Vague 15, the 1984 issue, featured End of Music and Stop the City Vague rants, the Cult, Getting the Fear – the rest of Southern Death Cult, their singer Bee on Charles Manson, Pete Scott on the Church of the Sub-Genius, more Viz comic strips, Nick Cave and the Cavemen reviewed by John Apostle aka Travis of God Told Me To Do It, Xmal Deutschland, Anna and Maria on Greenham Common, and Dave Hicks (by then Davyd of Lavolta Lakota)’s homage to American Indian women.

Stop the City

‘In the capitals of the world war is being planned and financed. In London, the businesses that profit from this are concentrated in the City. The arms race starts here,’ reads the Stop the City handout. On September 29 last year a few thousand people gathered in the City to make a peaceful protest against the people who profit from war. It was a sort of follow up and different approach to the blockades of US nuclear arms bases. In 1983 Thatcher’s government spent some £12,000 million on the armed forces. That’s something like £30 million a day. Our leader also gave the go-ahead to exports of arms; a trifling amount compared with defence, somewhere in the region of £2,000 million, £5 million a day. A large percentage of this went to our supposed arch enemy Argentina. That’s before and after the Falklands fiasco. This keeps the hypocritical circle of the arms business going round. We export more arms abroad so we need to spend more on defence. At the expense of social services such as hospitals and schools, the inner-cities, housing, roads, communications, not to mention the starving millions.

September 29 1983 was the day that the fat corrupt purveyors of this disgusting trade counted up their money and drooled over their profits. Proceedings started in the morning when the early risers made the most impact, burning flags, smoke-bombing tube stations and bringing the traffic to a standstill outside the Bank of England. By 10 o’clock there were about 3,000 protesters outside the Corn Exchange and there had already been several arrests. You might have guessed that I was not one of the early risers. I’m afraid the revolution will have to wait until I’ve had a good lie-in. When Chris and me got to the Bank everyone had moved on and we thought we were going to spend the whole day wandering about the City missing the action. But after a brisk stroll we found everyone merrily mocking the mayor’s inauguration at the Guildhall and trying to disrupt the hearings of those arrested in the morning. As Penny Rimbaud said in Punk Lives: ‘Rich men administering rich men’s law, to maintain rich men’s order.’

Unfortunately the only people we found with any real enthusiasm were hippies who tried to get everyone involved in their street theatre and suchlike. Punks looked on, wanting to do something but reluctant to join in with the hippies’ fun and games. The protesters were predominantly punk squatters and mutant hippies with a sprinkling of CND groups from around the country. CND were not officially involved because they thought it would be too violent; nor were Militant because they thought it wouldn’t be violent enough. To quote Penny Rimbaud’s report in Punk Lives again: ‘Stop the City was a demonstration of individuals, by individuals for individuals… We were there to demand a future, our own future.’ Stop the City was only very loosely organised. It was like a giant anarchic carnival. There was more excitement and humour than at any gig I went to last year. Maybe we didn’t take control, or even disrupt the traffic much, but it was like stating your case, making your own decisions and refusing to be pushed around for once.

If the police forces of oppression reacted predictably, not all City workers were reactionary. Telecom workers had refused to work in the City and there were even ‘Stockbrokers against the Bomb’. But on the whole the bowler hat brigade treated us with contempt, quite often fear and mostly ridicule, the same attitude as we have towards them really. This came out of one of the foaming white collars in the Evening Standard: “If these people want to be taken seriously they should dress sensibly and properly.” Absolutely. After the Guildhall action there were various attempts to halt rush hour traffic, that were all thwarted by brutal ‘SWANT’ tactics from the police. When we tried to prevent the takings from the Stock Exchange being shipped out, the pigs turned even uglier. By this time they had us heavily outnumbered but it was still made very obvious that if it came to the crunch (and for many it did) we were expendable but property and the sacred money god were not.

The final fling came about 5, when everyone converged on Wood Street Police Station, where people were being held without being given their right to a phone call. The forces of oppression turned nasty again, without warning crushing everyone up against a wall and trampling protesters underfoot on horses frothing at the mouth with excitement. As they chased us off, I heard one constable calling back one of his over enthusiastic comrades and saying, “Oh dear, he’s got the bloodlust again.” There were a lot of other things going off that we didn’t know about at the time; 40 people had been arrested for entering a bank to open accounts; there was a 65 foot letter of solidarity from supporters in Canada; Royal Exchange messengers were prevented from working; restaurants were stink-bombed; fur shops had been attacked; some people had spent the whole day jamming telephone lines to banks and offices; there had been lie-ins, lock gluing, alternative decorations on statues, and bands had volunteered to do benefit gigs to pay off fines.

Stop the City was only meant to be a one-off event but it had to be repeated as it all came to a head at the end of March. The miners were out on strike and the press worked overtime turning them into evil subversives. On March 28 London Transport were out and the City ground to a halt. That night squatters were illegally evicted in Effra Road, Brixton. Early the next day, March 29, the pinstripe ranks were once again infiltrated by spiky tops and soon black flags were being raised outside the Royal Exchange. Before we got there (a bit earlier this time) cars had been overturned, bank windows smashed and the Sun offices stormed by 50 demonstrators. On the bus going into the City the traffic came to more of a standstill than usual, so we jumped off and walked the last bit, getting that adrenalin rush again hearing police sirens in the distance, and we were at the Royal Exchange before we realised it. Stop the City 2 was better attended and consequently more arrests were made. Bank windows got it particularly hard this time, notably Barclays, and a few more smoke bombs were flung around. Mini-Stop the Cities were held in Bristol and Glasgow, and the press were forced to pay some attention.

Charles Manson: Fear Swept the Poolsides – by Bee of Getting the Fear

“Mr and Mrs America – you are wrong, I am not King of the Jews, nor am I a hippy cult leader. I am what you have made me and the mad dog devil killer fiend leper is a reflection of your society… Whatever the outcome of this madness that you call a fair trial or Christian justice, you can know this: in my mind’s eye my thoughts light fires in your cities.” Statement by Charles Manson after his conviction for the Tate/La Bianca murders. On October 15 1969 the Los Angeles Police Department arrested a group of hippy vagrants on charges of motor theft. Little did the LAPD know that what would unfold over the next few weeks would dominate the press for over a year, result in the longest trial ever recorded in the history of the United States and scar the American way of life until the day it ceases to exist. One of the arrests made at the time was that of Charles Manson – he would later be charged with the murders of Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Leno and Rosemary La Bianca.

“No sense makes sense.” Charles Manson 1969. Motives: If listed, the possible motives would lengthen this article by at least another 2 issues. So here are just the main ones: (1) Manson was supposed to have thought there was going to be a revolution and that the Beatles were sending him messages via ‘The White Album’, saying he was the catalyst for the revolution. The black community was going to rise and wipe out all the other races except for the Manson family – who would be hiding in the desert. Once they had killed everyone else the black people would not know how to run the new world. So they would come and ask Charlie to lead them. This motive was dreamed up by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor at the trial, and taken seriously by the judge and jury – who convicted Manson on the strength of it – despite it being at least as bizarre as the events leading up to it, if not more so.

(2) Bobby Beausoliel and Susan Atkins, both members of the Family, had been charged with murdering Garry Hinman – In order to prove their innocence, the Manson Family performed copy-cat murders. So that the police would release Bobby and Susan, thinking that they were innocent and the real killers were still at large. Hence the writing on the walls and the tying up of the victims. There are lots of other suggested motives, some incriminating Roman Polanski, husband of Sharon Tate, who was supposed to be going through a bad patch with his wife. “These are your children and they come at you with knives.” Charles Manson 1969. Bobby Beausoliel was the first of the Family to be arrested in ’69. He was charged with the murder of Gary Hinman. Before he joined the Family he was the boyfriend of Kenneth Anger, the magician, author of Hollywood Babylon and film director. Beausoliel co-starred in one of his films with Marianne Faithfull. Susan Atkins aka Sadie was jailed along with Beausoliel. She was later charged with killing Sharon Tate. She told a cellmate about the Tate murders which led to the arrest of Charlie.

“My reality is my reality and I stand within myself in my own reality.” Charles Manson 1969. Life on the ranch: Before the fatal incidents, Charlie lived on the Spahn Ranch in a remote part of LA with the Family. The Family consisted of young girls that had left home or been thrown out. There weren’t as many men as girls, the ones that were there were mainly drawn by the easy lifestyle. Together they used to customise dune buggies and stage games where everyone would drop acid and act out their fantasies. Some people suggest a theory that the murders in ’69 were one of the Family games that went too far. ‘Getting the fear’ was a phrase that Manson used. It is a form of self-induced paranoia. Manson admired the coyote – an animal that is in a constant state of total paranoia. They would break into people’s houses at night when the occupants were asleep in bed, and not steal anything but just rearrange the furniture. The idea is there is nothing to fear but fear itself. “The fear hits you – it’s like walking on waves of fear.”

The Manson trial began in the summer of 1970 and went on to be the longest US trial ever. The members of the Family that weren’t charged staged demos outside the court every day of the trial. They would give passers by literature professing Charlie’s innocence. Manson wanted to defend himself but the judge refused his request and after many arguments Charles Hollopeter was appointed as his lawyer. At one stage a mistrial was nearly announced because President Nixon said that he was guilty before the verdict and the LA Times used it as a banner headline. Manson somehow got hold of the paper and held it up in front of the jury. In any other case an immediate mistrial would have been called for but the judge decided that it would not influence the jury’s decision. Linda Kasabian underwent a mental examination before she gave evidence against Charlie and although she admitted to taking over 1,000 tabs of acid over a 2 year span she was said to be stable and allowed to give evidence. She wasn’t even sure if she had dropped any acid the night of the murders.

Charles Manson was found guilty and sentenced to death. But fortunately for him capital punishment in the state of California was abolished before they got him. He is now in Vacaville playing his guitar. When he was interviewed for American TV by Ron Snyder, he announced that he was in the process of writing his autobiography, Charles Manson: a product and victim of our society. Susan Atkins was found guilty, also sentenced to death and also escaped it. She is now a devout born-again Christian. She’s written 2 books on the subject. She’s still in an open prison where she met a millionaire and eventually married him. Bobby Beausoliel is also still in prison. He is now apparently a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Lynette Fromme aka Squeaky was found guilty of the attempted assassination of President Ford. She is still in prison and in contact with Charlie. Vincent T Bugliosi, the district attorney at the Manson trial, went on to write a book and film about Manson, full of as much fabrication as the trial.

Music: An album of early Manson songs is, although very rare, available. Apparently there are about 500 copies in existence on the ESP label and also a Spanish bootleg of it. The recordings are poor quality but the songs, especially the lyrics, are very good. His lyrics are protests and opinions poetically woven together. Some songs like ‘Garbage Dump’ have a touch of humour in them. Manson wrote a song called ‘Cease To Exist’, which the late Dennis Wilson of the Beachboys ripped off. The lyrics are almost identical to the original Manson version. It’s on the ‘20/20’ album. Wilson was at one time a close friend of Manson. “You can kill the ego, you can kill the pride, you can kill the want, the desire of a human being. You can lock him in a cell and you can knock out his teeth and smash his brain, but you cannot kill the soul. You can send us to the penitentiary, it’s not a big thing. I’ve been there all my life anyway. What about your children? These are just a few, there are many, many more, coming right at you.” Charles Manson 1969.

Getting The Fear: Dune Buggy Attack Battalion Zigzag 8 May 1984

We’re driving up the M5, after a couple of days in the west country that happily coincided with a freak warm spell. I’m relaxing in the back, pointing out sites of cosmic significance to Barry and Bee, and I think we were doing somewhere in the region of a hundred when I notice some commotion in the front. Peering round the headrest I see this stalled car slap bang in front of us. With a few swift calculations I come to the conclusion that we’re going to stop (in the very near future) roughly halfway through the stationary vehicle. Buzz says something like, “Oh no, this is the end,” and applies the brakes. It all happened so quick, as they say, no one had a chance to panic properly and that’s probably how Buzz came to see the possible route through on the verge. He lets out a bloodcurdling cry and manoeuvres our car over the verge, through the almost impossible gap between the offending vehicle and the barrier and past our appointment with doom and destruction at about 70 miles per hour. Is this what they call Getting the Fear?

That we survived this near catastrophe wasn’t the only surprise they had in store for me. Their intro is a minor religious experience in itself. Bee clings on to the microphone as if for dear life, with his hair and pure noise swirling around him. Everything is darkness, punctuated only by occasional thunderclaps of light that come with Bee’s sporadic primal screams. With each burst of light Charles Manson’s sinister eyes survey the scene from the shroud-like backdrop through the image of a young girl with a crossbow. And then there was light. Aky, Buzz and Barry take up positions and go straight into ‘Death is Bigger’ – and we have a bigger departure than anyone expected from what came before. Still an essentially young sound but with more experimental variety, veering towards 23 Skidoo territory at times. A lot of people have retreated into rock for security but Getting the Fear do their bit to unpick rock’s rich tapestry. The music combines a heavy intoxicating beat with a sprinkling of pop. The songs go through the spectrum from spaghetti western stompers like ‘Swell’ and ‘Against the Wind’ to the desperately sad and touching ‘Wish I Was Dreaming’ and ‘Dune Buggy Attack’ about Manson.

“Getting the Fear is just an expression,” Bee explains. “Charles Manson first used it in the 60s. It sums up a lot of things to me and I really liked it as the name of the band. Basically it comes from when the Family used to break into people’s homes late at night. They wouldn’t steal anything, sometimes they would rearrange the furniture. It was just to get this burst of paranoia. There’s different ways of getting that adrenalin going, like you can get it on stage.” Buzz: “That’s just what I told you to say.” Bee: “Was that OK?” This won’t be the first or last time you’ll hear Charles Manson’s name connected with a band. The first was the Beatles when he ended the summer of love and left his mark on the American dream with the Tate/La Bianca murders. Since then his influence has often stretched beyond his cellblock to fascinate scare and inspire the likes of Bowie, the Banshees and Psychic TV (who Bee was also a member of).

Where Bee’s coming from geographically is Barnsley. If you’re from Barnsley and you look like Bee, you have little choice but to have fallen in with Danse Society – which with due accord he did in their Y? and Danse Crazy incarnations on keyboards. Then he moved to London and fell in with amongst others Paddy from Raped and Psychic TV. Aky had known Bee from pre-Southern Death Cult Violation days but they had forgotten about each other until, as Buzz takes up the story: “Mark Manning (of Flexipop magazine – who went on to Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction) saw him in Skin 2 and rang us up and said we should get him. We didn’t know if he could sing or not but we auditioned him, because all we were getting were people trying to rip off Ian. Chicken dancers anonymous. We just wanted someone who stood out from the rest. Somebody who was a bit special.” Bee: “They couldn’t get anyone so they had me.”

“I think what we did basically was shut ourselves away in the rehearsal room,” Bee continues, “Ignored everyone else and did whatever came out. We just like to feel that there’s no restrictions at all. If we want to do a slow song we just do it. If Buzz wants to play bass or Barry wants to play guitar then they just play it.” Aky: “With Southern Death Cult there was more of a set idea – but we brought any restrictions upon ourselves. It wasn’t Ian’s fault. We just played that music and didn’t think beyond it.” Bee on what he writes about: “Things that I go through. It’s a sort of diary. I don’t want to gear the audience into any particular direction… Basically all the songs are about sex or religion. The second one ‘Fatal Date’ is about when I was at school. I was put in a very religious school and just went along with it, like you do when you’re very young – but at about 13 I realised there was nothing there and it left a big empty hole.”

“We use the images because we like them and we think other people might as well – like the backdrop, which is Charles Manson’s eyes – but we thought it’s 1984 and everyone’s going to think it’s Big Brother. That’s why we put the little girl with the crossbow up as well and Graham Bentley (of Bauhaus lighting previous) devised a way of making the eyes come through. The reason why she’s holding a crossbow is to combine the two things; youth/innocence with aggression. That’s as far as it goes, there isn’t any message… I’ve got things I could say that could maybe enlighten people but if they’re going to be enlightened they should find it themselves. My only philosophy is if you want to do something you’ll do it and if you don’t you won’t. You can’t really influence people… Every person has their own limits. You should stick to your limits and not try to impress people. People should be aware of themselves and do as much as they can.”

Barry sums up: “Isn’t it strange though, the last time we spoke, a year ago (the last Southern Death Cult interview), we had a real in depth discussion, a real soul searcher. I think that was an indication of how unhappy we were at the time. When you’re happy you don’t want to talk about stuff like that. I think the surest indication of how happy we are now is the kind of illegible conversation we’re having – but it is a true representation. I’m glad I got that out.” As Barry said there was a happy, optimistic atmosphere even in Birmingham. I went back to Huddersfield and lived to tell the tale and got to make my first video of the gig at Retford Porterhouse. When I got home I half expected to find my furniture rearranged but then I remembered I didn’t have any. After Getting the Fear, Bee and Barry saw the 80s out as Into A Circle while the drummer Aky went on to greater success with the bhangra-punk-reggae-hip-hop fusion of Fun-da-Mental and his Nation label on All Saints Road in Notting Hill.

The Cult

Post-positive-punk-script: By the time of the Cult technically speaking I’d split the programme and was into Psychic TV, Situationist and conspiracy theories. I only saw the Cult incarnation of the group a couple of times including their debut on The Tube in Newcastle, which I reviewed for Zigzag and dredged up for James Brown of Loaded the other day: January 13 The only time this week’s Tube achieved anything like the atmosphere of a live gig was with the last band, our boys. Quote of the year so far from Ian: “Only 2 minutes to go and we’ve got to change the name in front of millions of people!” So after the year all God’s children got culture, Death Cult drop the Death and evolve into The Cult for their first appearance of 1984. This presented some problems for Lesley Ash…

The highlight of the show was when the Cult gave their single ‘Spirit Walker’ its first proper public airing. Undoubtedly the best song they’ve come up with to date and better than anything from any of their previous incarnations, except maybe Southern Death Cult’s ‘Faith’ and ‘Moya’ but that’s a different story. There follows a very rock based Cult set that included ‘Flower in the Desert’, the proposed title track of the first album, ‘Horse Nation’ and off the air ‘God’s Zoo’, ‘83rd Dream’ and ‘Christians’. The only thing that spoilt it was some particularly ridiculous chicken dancing.

The Church of the Sub-Genius – by the Reverend Pete Scott

In America, where freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, anything is likely to develop. Enter the Sub-Genius Foundation, billing itself as the weirdest cult on Earth. What do they believe in? A mysterious character known as Bob Dodds, who, they claim, ‘is basically a pretty regular guy, just very rich and possessed of forces greater than man.’ Bob’s ‘two-fisted’ pals are said to include Jesus, Krishna, Buddha and Elvis. His opposite number in the forces of evil is known as the dreaded anti-Bob 333. The Sub-Genius cultists have had a field day inventing explanations for such things as the Kennedy and Lennon assassinations. Lennon, they claim, wasn’t assassinated at all; he actually died of a drug overdose a split second before being shot. ‘So in the end Chapman’s bullets were wasted.’

They obtain most of their pleasure from the reactions of their victims – mostly baffled normals – and the resulting publicity. Their activities are pretty varied; they publish their own surreal humour fanzine, The Stark Fist, and appear regularly on radio and cable TV across the States. They also organise parties, demonstrations, road-rants, studio-séances and weird anti-music gigs at which the foundation’s resident bands and solo musicians cut loose. The first of these church sanctified anti-music gigs was hatched circa 1980 by Snavely Eklund Sterno Keckhaver, Janor Hypercleats and Drelloid. This was the now infamous Doctors 4 Bob, ‘the first band to use chainsaws and drawers full of broken car parts in their musical interpretations.’ These defrocked surgeons appeared at red-hot, spirit-filled revivals across the States, playing horribly calloused songs like ‘Dumper Truck fulla Dead Policemen’, ‘Bucket of Drugs’, ‘Dead Men Live in Sewers’ and ‘Told the Judge to Suck my Dick’.

They soon inspired a legion of imitators and gave rise to a whole new style of Hellspew, abrasive to the point of brain erasure. There are now over 20 of these ‘doktor-bands’ in existence, including such names as 2,000 Doktors, Glassmadness, The Band That Dare Not Speak Its Name and Doktors for Extreme Prejudice, ‘mercenaries who play dynamite tunes between assignments.’ ‘For a true doctor-band to succeed,’ a press release reveals, ‘few if any of the members should be adept with the musical instruments they use in their trance-sessions. One expert musician on his chosen instrument won’t hurt. More than that, however, and the musicians will begin to make the fatal mistake of trying.’

Look Mummy Clowns: ‘Tom Vague Is My Hero’ by Stringy

Tom Vague is my hero, I think his mag is great, he lends me lots of money, because he is my mate, ole’ Tommy ain’t a moaner, he always keeps his head, but I often hear strange noises, when that sheep gets in his bed. Tom Vague is my hero, he always talks to me, he fights the revolution, between his cups of tea, and typing through the night, doesn’t get him down, that’s why he is my hero, and that’s why I’m his fan. Tom Vague is my hero, when he does the washing-up, it doesn’t happen often though, because he doesn’t give a fuck, but that don’t really matter, ole’ Tommy is really great, and I’m a bit skint right now, lend us a fiver, eh mate.’ Chorus: ‘Tom, Tom, Tom, Tommy Vague, he is so big and brave, Tom, Tom, Tommy Vague, he is all our rave.’

In 1984 the Vague office moved several times; from 109 Sickert Court (named after the Jack the Ripper suspect artist) on Essex Road into Stoke Newington; at first to Stringy of Look Mummy Clowns’ place at 295 Amhurst Road (of Angry Brigade bust previous), then to John Apostle’s squat, 50 Beatty Road, the other side of Stoke Newington High Street; after a brief spell in Acton, back to Beatty Road again and another stint at Stringy’s on Amhurst Road, to Berlin and Hamburg after the X-mal tour, and back to 57 Palatine Road in Stoke Newington for Christmas.

I spent most of the mid 80s on Amhurst Road and Evering Road in Stoke Newington, reading Situationist and conspiracy theories and Vietnam war books, and watching cult films on video, between the houses where the Angry Brigade were busted and Jack the hat McVitie was bumped off by the Krays. Stoke Newington in the mid 80s was an anarcho-punk squatter hotbed of dogs on bits of string, cider drinking, etc, which my anarcho-post-punk contingent avoided almost literally like the plague. The pubs were the Three Crowns, the Tanners (the former Rochester Castle punk gig venue) and Steptoe’s for ESB.

1984 January 13 The Cult on The Tube. ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was number 1. March The Miners strike. Getting the Fear tour. March 29 Stop the City 2. April 17 WPC Yvonne Fletcher (who I went to school with) was shot dead during a demo against Colonel Gaddafi at the Libyan Embassy in St James’s Square. May The Cult tour. Nick Cave at Bristol Trinity. Psychedelic Furs at Sheffield. May 19 Everton won the cup. May 29 Riot police battle with miners at Orgreave. June Vague 15 came out. CND rally. The Smiths at the GLC festival. Acton. Xmal Deutschland tour merchandising. August LA 23rd Olympics. Notting Hill Carnival. September Psychic TV interview. Berlin. Hamburg. Stop the City 3. October Xmal European tour. October 12 The Tory cabinet were bombed by the IRA in Brighton. October 31 Indira Gandhi was assassinated. November Reagan was re-elected. The first UK deaths from AIDS were reported. December 14 Band Aid ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ was recorded.


Tom Vague
(Vague Publishing, 1984)
now out of print