Crimewave hits Luton

Sat 7 May, Russ CrimeWave performs UK Decay lyrics in front of Luton Town Hall.

There wasn’t exactly a crowd but a series of puzzled onlookers who thought they were watching a priest or some sort of crazed politician. The mayor with his gold chain was sat there looking quite unsure for a while before moving on. When he read out the lyrics for  “Killer for the USA” , a bemused asian youth shouted out “what do you mean?” “Killer for the USA” . After a moment of explanation and on receiving a free “God So Loves Decay” lyric book, the youth and his pals walked away puzzled.

All in all , it was a really surreal experience, the poet enjoyed his performance and so did a group of us, the public registered a strange happening under the statue of liberty by the town hall for two hours.the point had been made! Heavy Metal Jews in mind of all the anti-semetism stuff that had gone down, was a bit nerve racking but, I think in the name of punk and poetry , it prevailed!
It was actually really interesting hearing the songs, read out in this way, could this be the start of something new in a similar vane perhaps (sic) ‘punk poetique?’

Finally a confused and indignant looking raconteur priest type chap arrived , apparently he was the regular bible basher for that spot, he had to wait his turn, he turned out to be good humoured thankfully!


A Poker Soundtrack of Rockin’ Proportions

Music to get you pumped up at poker games

Whether people are aware of it or not, music has a profound effect on people’s moods. One need only watch any of the recut trailers littered on the Internet – most notably the one where Stanley Kubrick’s seminal psychological horror film The Shining gets turned into a romantic comedy – to see how the power of music can affect the overall atmosphere.

Many poker players have taken to wearing headphones while playing their rounds. Some might argue that having music blaring at your ears might affect your concentration. On the flipside though, players who do sport headphones see music as more of a secret weapon of sorts, putting them in the right frame of mind when the game calls for it. In fact, this “mood control” method might even help them in misdirecting their opponents if they’re really good at taking full advantage of music’s capabilities.

Poker is a game that requires keeping close tabs on its progress, even if you’re playing online. Betfair Poker’s many tournament challenges like the Jackpot Sit&Go and the VIP Club Bonanza may not have quite the same atmosphere as playing on the floors of the MGM Grand, but the discipline of maintaining composure all throughout a game session is still an imperative; and music might just be your key towards learning that discipline.

If you’re looking to add the element of music to your poker-playing, the following musical cues could come in handy for your inaugural session soundtrack:

1. Ratatat’s “Loud Pipes” has that blues guitar touch to an electronic-based percussion whose synth isn’t too overpowering; just subdued enough to let the melody shine through. It gives the listener that laid back feel without being too relaxed. In other words, it’s the perfect musical opener to a soon-to-be-heated poker session.

2. Although Modest Mouse has since achieved some semblance of mainstream fame in recent years, many fans still remember their earlier days when their sound was rawer and more intimate in an acoustic hall sort of way. The track “Polar Opposites” from their 1997 indie album classic The Lonesome Crowded West probably best sums up the whole feel that they were going for: taking it easy while on a long journey. That’s “in-between mood” in poker terms.

3. As the game wears on, and the stakes get higher, the competition is sure to heat up. To get your gameface on, post-punk band UK Decay’s “Decadance” should do the job. Its steady cadence is backed by a guitar riff that gradually increases in intensity and provides just the right amount of rush to pull you through towards the clutch.

4. Finally, any track from now-defunct band Rage Against the Machine’s debut album should psych you up into giving 110% to come out with the win. “You gotta take the power back,” as Zack de la Rocha puts it, and take it back you will with this alternative metal classic bringing out your A-game.

The relationship between music and mood has long been known by adherents of the art form, and this psycho-aural connection is a major factor that great masters consider when crafting their work. This connection can be utilized by poker players to their advantage. All that’s needed is in figuring out which ones fit which occasions.

Decay get arty

As gigs go this wasn’t really the usual UK Decay experience. When Franko asked if we could step in at the last minute to replace the mysterious Revelator, we asked what sort of night he was planning.

‘Art!’ He shot back, ‘lot’s of art. And loud music too.’

Simples we think, and load up Jon’s Volvo for the fairly short trip from the blessed holy lands of Lutonia to South East London. Ed was making his own way down and Abbo was hightailing it in from Chester. Jon was in his usual mad driver mode, and so Spon and me spent the majority of the trip with our eyes shut and praying we’d make it in one piece.

The venue was an old pub in Camberwell that’s been converted into a swish bar. The landlord is well in with the art crew and hosts lots of leftfield events there, including regular fetish nights apparently. We bowl in and find Chairman Che and Marsha already there and doing the business. Today Che’s smoking small, thin cigars, rather than the Zeppelins he usually prefers.  We set up and sound check. Things are sounding good. We’re just playing through the backline and a vocal PA, today but there’s a lovely crisp urgency to the sound.

Franko and his crew are already in attendance – as are a selection of London’s finest performance artists. To be fair, some of it went over our heads. In fact, most of what was going on went over our heads – a great deal of which seemed to involve nakedness and gaffer tape. But everyone there was engaged and respectful; the ideas well executed.

As well as being a great artist Franko was singing in the first band due on that evening: At Night We Cry.  While they sound checked we cleared off to a nearby café to drink beer, eat food and talk about next moves – possibly another record. Che reported back on gigs booked or being planned: which at the moment include a big London show later this year, then jaunts into Spain, Poland, Germany and more. We’re adding shows by the day and once everything is signed off will be putting up the dates. The sun was hot and the beer was cold and it was the first time in ages we’d been able to just sit around and hang out – which was great.

So back to the venue in time to see Franko do his thing. At Night We Cry are a three piece: drums, bass and Franko on vocals and FX. Considering there are just three of them they make a great racket, lots of heavy, monstrous grooving between the rhythm section and Franko doing his nut through effects laden vocals. Hopefully we’ll be playing with them again in Italy later this year.

And then to us. We only had to play for 30 minutes so did the same set as we had outside Rough Trade West a few weeks ago:

  • Shake ‘em up
  • Heavy Metal Jews
  • Killer
  • City is a Cage
  • UK Decay
  • For My Country
  • I Feel Good

It’s probably the first time the band has played in front of an audience who has never heard them before. Although Steve and Lee did manage to get down to see the show. It was a good show: tight, energetic and powerful – the usual Decay ingredients minus the swinging belts. Before we knew it, the night was done. A few beers and then a face from the past: Phil Keefe from Luton who made the short journey from his new home in SE London, but arrived 30 minutes after we’d played.

Time to head back. Spon and me looked at the Volvo with trepidation. As I was navigating from the map on my phone, I drew the short straw and had to sit in the front.  I shut my eyes and prayed!

Reflections on Record Store Day

So thanks first for everyone who came to see us in the blisteringly hot West London sunshine last Saturday. I personally had no idea what to expect until I drove up to Portabello Road and had to inch the car through a teeming mass of bodies to find a parking space. Stupidly I’d brought most of my drum kit with me but quickly realised that I’d only have room for the kick drum, snare and one maybe two cymbals. Chairman Che the manager was trying to talk me into doing it standing up to save on stool space – but that just had disaster written all over it. Over the next hour everyone began to arrive and I built the reduced kit up the road, and we then all carried it down to outside the shop.

I’m never normally a fan of bands in shades (i’m looking at you Bono) but Rough Trade was boiling a sun trap so we all – with the exception of the Edmund – kept the brown bins on. The front of the crowd were standing on Abbo’s toes and before the power was cut we launched into a quickfire 25-minute set, built around five songs from the new album and two from the vaults. We played Shake em Up. Heavy Metal Jews, UK Decay, Killer, City is a Cage, For My Country and I Feel Good. We probably played over the 25-minute slot too – and Rough Trade told us later that its power was cut soon afterwards!

Rimini: Italy

Moonlight Festival 2011moonlight2012_3

Dateline : Sunday 28th August. Britain 16C overcast Rimini 32C sunny


Moonlight candid 0017am ish. After a two hour drive and another hour working the car park at the airport out, we take a photo to help us locate the car on return the following day…don’t want to take any chances! Note the cheery english weather we are going to leave behind for a day.



12.30pm local time – “Lucky bastards! the Italians are having a proper summer!” Spon exclaimed in frustration at the lack of a British ‘proper summer’. We drove 100 kliks from Bologna airport to the festival site at ‘Velvet’, Rimini…nice motorway (or autostrade)


Moonlight_candid_0032pm -ish. Pull into Festival venue by nice lake with fishermen (and as it turned out later, nasty mosquito’s!)





2.30 pm ish. Despite being late for soundcheck because of lost baggage (Abbo’s guitar) at airport..the festival techies are running behind & we have to wait another half hour..”don’t worry, this is Italy – everything runs late” we were confidently re-assured.

Moonlight_candid_0042.45pm ish. Time for a quick scuttle round venue of moonlight festival site at club ‘velvet’. Nice venue – bit like a graffiti-ed cow-shed by a lake. It wouldn’t make it through a british summer let alone winter..but in italy’s climate it actually works really well as a venue.



2.50pm ish. The side of the venue facing the lake The back-stage area is near the other end of the building, beyond the tomato trees.




Moonlight_candid_0062.55pm ish. The punters have arrived as you can see in this car park at the other end of the long building. In the distance you can see san marino mountain, we were to have dinner there later as it turned out. Actually the festival wasn’t due to start until 7pm

3pm ish. Back to the van, where everyone is ‘hanging out’ and keeping real cool…just awaiting that starter pistol..

3.30pm ish. Technically, the soundcheck should have finished 15 minutes ago. Everybody is ready to jump into action, once the word “let the soundcheck commence” is given.
Well, very soon, the word was finally given…we soundchecked and were told that dinner would be in nearby in San Marino later..

5.30pm. Arrived at the hotel, this was to be the shortest stay ever, 3 hours kip then sign out and go to dinner.

10.30pm ish..Dinner in a San Marino ‘rock cafe’ with authentic san maronian cuisine – veggy chilli, of course!


10.30pm ish. Special guest at the san marino buffett was a life size dummy of a san marinoian ‘melvis presley’ how bizzare! By 11pm we were back in italy and back at the venue. mucho stuff to prepare.We left the ‘house’ at 3.30am ish and raced to make our plane back..



6.30am ish. mid flight back and “gosh! look at those mountains” An hour later we were hobbling through the arrivals and fumbling through our bags for the car keys.

So a it was thirty hour jaunt by the time we got back to our homes, with little or next to no sleep.
But boy! what a thirty hours “I met a boy who wore a mask, just like today” It was Spon…

Helsinki: Finland

Helsinki HarbourDateline: January 18 2013 Minus 25c We were taking off on one of the last planes to depart from Heathrow before the blizzard closed in that morning. We had a tight schedule  flying two hours forward into the time zone  for a gig with Finnish hero’s ‘Silent Scream‘  at the Ravintola Kuudes Linja  club in the heart of down town Helsinki.
Our arrival at Helsinki airport nearly two hours late, meant for a speedy 20 kilometre drive straight to the venue. The Finnish are not phased by the cold or snow, over here the piled up snow in the spaces between the parked cars has taken on an air of permanence  Not like the ‘anglo slush’ but more of a feel of hard granite, you wouldn’t want to crash your motor into this! The cars were all moving – they had snow tyres, folk were going about their daily business, to them this was normal. Soon they would arrive in their hundreds for our show.
We got out of the transport and the cold literally took our breath away, we made haste and prepared for the sound check.  We were greeted by the promotion folk and by members of Silent Scream, they all seemed relieved that we had made it. After the sound check, it was interview time and we huddled around a digital audio recorder whilst Oskar Terramortis asked the questions.

Instead of eating we stayed at the club and watched some of Silent Scream who made an impressively big sound, guitars that sounded like great valkyranian horns. Their music was intelligent and their performance in front of the home crowd was awesome. The bass player has a fascination with 60’s and 70’s Brit comedy movies like the ‘Carry On’ series, all of the band were really friendly as was a great deal of the audience as it turned out.
It turns out that Rock Music generally in Finland, is the nations Pop Music. All respect to the Finnish, they are a tough bunch, they have to be to survive the harsh climate. We were reminded however that Finland had a much better summer in 2012 than the rain sodden mire we had here back in blighty. But even for Finland it was cold, in fact the coldest evening of the winter of 0′ 13 so far.
Then it was time for our performance, we would be premièring a number of new songs from the album, and had to stay in focus.

Then we were on. The set flashed by in ultra quick time, visions of crowds of enthusiastic punters rocking out down the front, they were round to one side as well. At the back people watched, some standing on things, there were red digi lights and flashes going off in the crowd. The crowd were warm then they got hot, making lots of noise as we changed songs. There was a couple of minor odd glitches, but overall we were reasonably happy with our performance. It was new guitarist Johnny G second gig with us, his first was in Berlin back in November. Since his arrival and the new material the band feels like it’s really beginning to fire on all four cylinders. Ed, Ray and Johnny are getting down to the groove, Spon is soaring above and Abbo caresses and taunts giving performance that defy.

Following our show the audience queued up to meet us and we chatted and signed merch and memorabilia away the following hour. After finally eating the most awesome veggie kebab cooked up by a couple of fine Soumi dude chef’s, we hastened to a down town bar where a hall at the back was assigned for an after show party. We continued networking and drank away the next couple hours before heading to the hotel for some well earned sleep.

The following morning following breakfast and a short band meeting, there were a couple of hours to spare. We decided to hang out for a bit where the harbour meets the city centre. It was a beautiful bright sunny day despite the cold, a bunch of us threaded our way meaningfully down to the harbour. We were astonished to see the Sea frozen and as we watched, an icebreaker was ploughing it’s way through the ice towards the jetty.
The harbour was a glorious vision of crunched and refrozen ice. To add a sense of surreality there were a couple of futuristic leviathan super cruise liners frozen in situ straddling the harbour edges. The classical architecture of the city was the backdrop with the hustle and bustle of humanity going about their daily normal business unfolding before us. We walked round to what looked like the focal point of the harbour area and by a ring of stone turtles.  Che magically produced some fine Beaujolais wine that we drank in plastic glasses as the sun reflected untold shades and sunbeams in the ice. The wine literally froze solid before we had chance to finish and soon it was time to make our way back to the airport and home.
It wouldn’t be a story without a twist, the transporter was late picking us up to return to the airport, it turned out it was so cold the diesel had frozen in the tank! Hastily transport was rearranged and got us back to the airport only just in the nick of time, but despite the cold, it made us sweat!

Necromanteion Show on Cathedral 13 Radio on Mixcloud
Oskar Terramortis interviews ukdecay


Spon blogs the lo-down

UK Decay recording their second album ‘New Hope For The Dead’

Guitarist Steve Spon
blogs the lo-down

Part 1:
Blue skies over, the White Cliffs of Dover!
On a Sunday afternoon in late February 2012, members of UK Decay began arriving for their booking at the recording studio situated above the famous white cliffs of Dover. The recording sessions will be our first since we recorded the ‘Rising From The Dread EP’ almost thirty years ago. Together with the help of the website and our ‘Pledgers’, we had managed to raise much of the funding required to hire out the services of one the rock-guitar worlds most eminent producers, Chris Tsangarides, better known to many as “The Dark Lord” (“TDL”).
TDL’s studio is perfectly situated, away from the beaten track, overlooking a holiday park with magnificent views across the sea all the way to France on a clear day. As the light faded to dusk we arrived and unloaded our packed vehicles into a ‘Hi de Hi’ type holiday cabin nearby to the studio, that was to be our lodgings for the next ten days or so. Utilising the studios facilities at this quiet time of the year meant that we had the holiday park to ourselves for the duration, which was real cool!
We had a mammoth task ahead, not many bands had left it thirty one years between recording albums! Since the proper reformation of UK Decay in 2008, there has been a lot of talk about new songs and possible recordings. The recent shows have seen us featuring a small number of new tracks in the set. In October 2011, the decision was taken to go ahead with recording a new album.
Abbo suggested that we find a specialist producer, who had mastered the art and understanding of recording a guitar and drum oriented band. It wasn’t long before TDL came to light, although primarily a Heavy Metal producer, Abbo recommended that he might be the right guy for us.
Back in the first era of UK Decay, most of the band were based in Luton with Ed the bassist making a short journey down the M1 from Northampton for rehearsals, we had it easy then! Nowadays, members of UK Decay live and work far apart from each other and even a simple rehearsal can accrue many hundreds of combined travelling miles. Not very good for our carbon footprint, we know! But for us there is no alternative, saving for working across the internet, sending ideas via mp3’s etc. we had done a lot of that but its still necessary to play together in the same room at times.
Over the last few months, ideas and activities have increased as the booked studio dates got closer, culminating in a very active couple weeks before the deadline. Then with one week to go, a serious problem manifested that would affect our plans. Ed the bassist was contending with a serious personal family problem that meant we would not be able to have all the band in the studio in the initial days. He would be arriving later in the session. Initially we tried to change the dates, but this was impossible as TDL had other bands and projects booked after us. So we would have to lay down the drums to a guide and have Ed overdub his bass later on. This is not the usual method of recording bands but then hey! when were we ever a ‘usual’ kind of band!
Luckily we had worked out guide tracks on our song demo’s on computer software, complete with raw bass parts, so by utilising these, it would be possible to get around Ed not being available in the initial stages. So in the evening before the first day of recording, drummer Ray and I set up my PC in the ‘Hi de Hi’ cabin and poured through the songs that were about to be recorded. Additionally, having structured the new songs with this software, this enabled Ray and I to really get our heads around the arrangements and the work we had to do. So with a few beers we sat at the computer writing notes and rehearsing parts until at 2am we hit our bunks for the night, tomorrow would be a big day.
Ray was up bright and early the following morning and he was eager to get the ‘she-bang’ on the road. Personally mornings are not my best time, but with the inspiration of the blue-skied vista outside and the sea air, I soon got my act together. It was a glorious day! Ray phoned TDL who was ready and waiting for us not one hundred metres away in his studio.
Ray had gone ahead, he would be using a kit largely supplied by TDL augmented with his own cymbals and snare. Before I ventured down to meet TDL for the first time, I took a few steps away from the Hi de Hi cabin to take in the magnificent view. I noted the cross channel ferry disappearing into the distant haze, beyond I could just make out a faint impression of distant french cliffs.
I had read up about TDL and his impressive array of achievements of production and had watched youtube videos of interviews with the man. He came across as very experienced and a genuinely interesting chap whom amongst other achievements had invented a revolutionary method for recording guitars, namely “The Vortex Guitar” recording technique. My years since the first era of UK Decay had seen me working and producing music for innumerable others, but now it was my turn to be ‘produced’ by someone else! As a musician it made me very aware of my personal ‘shortcomings’, I had after all abandoned playing the guitar for over twenty five years, only picking it up once again in recent years! I was about to meet the producer-maestro otherwise known as ‘The Dark Lord’.
I headed toward the white painted bungalow, round the back were some run down wooden barns, alongside a heavy duty looking outbuilding also painted white. I proceeded to a semi opened laminate door, knocked politely and entered. Inside Ray sat on a chair working on his drum pedal on a table leant against a wall in a slim room. Above the table on the wall there were several presented gold discs on display. The far end of the room contained a small kitchen and in-between, a door leading to what must be the studio.
Ray took me through the door to the studio control room, nice I thought, plenty of valve technology! It was small and compact compared to what you might expect but I could see it was well equipped and designed. The very large mixing desk faced a window tucked between two very nice looking studio monitors. Through the window you could see the cliffs and sea beyond. I continued following Ray through two smaller rooms containing a plethora of musical instruments and recording studio accessories including an upright piano and Hammond organ with Leslie cabinet. We rounded a corner and entered a larger room and in it was The Dark Lord himself, placing microphones round a drum kit.
We entered the room and I shook hands with TDL as Ray introduced us. “Coffee?” TDL offered, “Yes please” I answered and TDL took us back to the kitchen where a pot of freshly brewed coffee was awaiting.
We sat down at the table and after introductions, we discussed the plan of action for the session. Ray had already filled TDL in with the situation with Ed, so we moved on to how we could go about recording the drums for the songs. We worked out a plan for transferring our PC based guide music files onto his Radar/Pro Tools recording system. That would turn out to involve me running back and forth between TDL’s studio and our Hi de Hi cabin armed with a memory stick, transferring files for much of the first day! The system took a little tweeking to get right at first, but improved as the day went on.
TDL’s years of experience and empathy with his vocation shone like a wise beacon, here was a studio seer, a music magus that had worked with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode and Samantha Fox! To name but a few!
I felt humbled and yet he had a warmth and sense of inclusiveness that immediately made one feel at home. He had a down to earth attitude with a cunning plan to solve our problems! He led us back through the studio, this time with a narrated tour. At the back of the ‘live room’ with the drum kit was a covered rack, TDL pulled back a large cover and exposed the large rack, perhaps three metres long, bristling with guitars of all denominations. “Feel free to utilise any of these if you like” TDL offered, “Hmm” I thought of my trusted Antoria custom, “Thanks very much – perhaps!”.
Hi de Hi cabin
After a further coffee, I returned to Hi de Hi with memory stick to prepare the first batch of three songs. I needed to export the guide tracks from my software and import the results on to TDL’s system. TDL in the mean time finished the microphone placement and started work on the drum sound in the control room. Ray tweeked the kit and limbered up. Eventually I returned with a working file and we were go for recording the first three songs.
Ray played along to the prepared guide tracks which were now in sync with TDL’s system. I hung around whilst Ray went through a few takes on the first of the three tracks. With some adjustments of the monitors eventually we were happy to have the first take in the can. The drum sound on its own was absolutely awesome!
I headed back to Hi de Hi to prepare the next batch of songs, on return I noticed it was already dusk, “My God! its already six o’clock” I thought. Ray had recorded a second track and was about to start on the third when TDL announced that we were finishing the first day’s recordings. This was ok as we were now set up to steam into everything first thing the following day. We would have the evening to make sure all the guide tracks were prepared for the remaining songs. Abbo would be arriving later that evening so we would be able to discuss the arrangements with him then.
Ray and I drove the car to a local chippy, on return we sat at the large table in the Hi de Hi cabin and ate our nosh. Afterwards we got back to the PC to check over the next bunch of songs and work through some ideas on my guitar. Eventually, Abbo phoned Ray to say he was on his way with Jim. The time was 11.30pm, Ray was knackered, he had a long day Abbo was going to be late. I carried on with my guitar for a bit longer but I too was getting tired. At 1am, Abbo called again to say that he was twenty minutes away. Ray decided to wait up a little longer and eventually at 1.30am, Abbo and Jim arrived.
Complete with 100% Nob Creek Bourbon, Baileys, bottle of Rum and fat cuban cigars, the guys waltzed in. We could have been forgiven for taking a swift nightcap and departing for a well earned slumber, but not this time. Abbo, fresh faced and brimming with ideas, wanted to pour over the songs right away. Out came his mobile ipac, laptop and guitar and before we knew it we were back in the thick of working out songs, this time lashed with Jims cocktail concoctions and cigar smoke. Abbo had two brand new ideas for songs he would like to record, I shuddered as I thought about the technicalities involved in making them happen at this stage of the proceedings. Eventually at 4.30am we finally ground to a halt, we discussed a plan of action for the following day and turned in. Day one over!
Spon, Abbo, Chris Tsangarides (TDL), RayThanks to Pirate Hatter Jim for photos
TO BE CONTINUED…..when I get a chance!
Steve Spon