2016 is shaping up to be a great year for British punk bands. Here are 10 acts – both new and established – to keep on your radar in the next 12 months.
Ever since My Chemical Romance disbanded in 2013, there’s been a gap in the alternative music scene for a band with the ability to transcend the underground and capture the hearts and minds of alienated youth. Here’s Creeper, then, to fill that gap. Following the release of their debut EP in 2014, the Creeper cult has grown seismically and it shows no signs of slowing down. Fronted by the enigmatic Will Gould, the Southampton mob have planned every aspect of their band since day one, and in doing so they’ve created an escapist gothic universe reminiscent of their horror punk heroes, the Misfits and AFI. Their new EP The Stranger is released this month, followed by a UK headline tour and a full-length album later in the year.
Will Gould (vocals): “2016 is going to be an extremely important year for our band. Everything we have released so far we have recorded in secret and only announced upon completion. Our plans for this year are no different – we’ve been working on a lot of things for a considerable amount of time, and they’re our grandest ideas yet. 2016 is the year we make good on all our promises, the year we unveil the bigger world of Creeper, the year we take this show abroad, and the year the story we’ve been telling across our EPs reaches its mysterious, grand conclusion.”
MING CITY ROCKERS
Their self-titled debut album was a conduit for the romantic discontent, hedonistic self-destruction, and outsider antagonism inspired by the band’s gloomy upbringing in their Lincolnshire hometown. The first time we saw them play live was in the back room of an East End pub in the company of Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley, and it was obvious from the start they had something special to offer. For their second album, Lemon, the band enlisted engineer Steve Albini, who helped refine the sound of their ramshackle debut into something more ambitious and ultimately more absorbing. If you crave full-throttle garage rock’n’roll, crammed with speed freak riffs and lyrics of vehement rage, then Ming City Rockers have it in spades.
Clancey Jones (guitar/vocals): “We’re from a town you’ve never heard of called Immingham. All the music we like comes from rock ‘n’ roll, but there’s nothing rock ‘n’ roll about anything in music at the minute. It sucks. We wanna be an antidote to all the boring stuff.”
After playing the biggest show of their career supporting Refused at London’s Electric Ballroom at the end of last year, Milk Teeth guitarist Josh Bannister quit the band. At this stage it’s unclear what that means for the future of Milk Teeth. Josh was, after all, a major part of their sound, not to mention the live show. But one thing is certain – the fact that such a young group can so convincingly summon the spirits of iconic bands like Nirvana, Sonic Youth and the Pixies, whilst at the same time sound so fresh and original holds them in good stead for the future. Vile Child already promises to be one of the best debut albums of 2016, and singer Becky Bloomfield is a star in the making. Frankly, we can’t wait to see what this band do next next.
Chris (guitar): “We’re so pumped for 2016! Our debut album is out and we’re touring all over the world. The year has hardly started and we are already doing things we didn’t think were possible for us. We just wanna keep on playing as many shows in as many places as possible, and keep on having all the fun.”
Before the punk police raise their batons and try to say God Damn aren’t punk, consider this… Nirvana weren’t grunge. They sounded nothing like Pearl Jam or Soundgarden. They were punk as fuck. And there’s more than a hint of Bleach-era Nirvana in God Damn’s sound. Whatever label you want to assign them – there’s everything from garage punk to stoner rock and noise pop in the mix – all you need to know is this Wolverhampton duo deal in a distinct style of distortion that’s elemental yet complex, disturbing yet beautiful, belligerent yet melodic – and really fucking good. They pack a mean punch, especially for a two-piece, and if their debut album Vultures set the bar, then album number two promises to punt it into the atmosphere.
Thom Edward (guitar/vocals): “We’re gunning for 2016 to be our best year yet. We finished recording our second record in December of last year, so it’s off to be mixed as we speak. The tunes are more tuneful and the riffs are more brutal than ever! On a personal level, aside from the usual touring and festival malarkey, I’m becoming a father for the first time, which is going to be insane. It’s making me more determined than ever to be the best I can be at whatever I do, be it music or parenting. Don’t worry – I’m not going soft, though. There are still plenty more visceral albums left in us yet.”
The road has not been easy for this Midlands quartet. They got some big breaks early on in their career, landing supporting slots with punk rock behemoths Billy Talent and a big UK tour with The Stranglers. But their refusal to adhere to popular trends and write bubblegum songs in the pop-punk mould meant they got left behind as other less talented bands ascended the ranks. Nevertheless, they stuck at it. They continued to tour relentlessly and release consistently good records, and last year they signed a deal with UK indie label Hassle. With a huge UK tour and an outstanding new record already laid out, it looks as if 2016 could be the year Max Raptor finally get the recognition they deserve. And about bloody time, too! This is pure gutsy punk rock at its best.
Matt Stevenson (bass): “2016’s already looking amazing for us. We’ve finished what will be our second full-length album, and we can’t wait to get it out. It’s weird to think we started all this in an illegally organised show in Burton on Trent in 2008, and now we’re heading out to Europe and preparing for over 130 shows this year. It’s about time everyone pricked their ears up and came down to a Raptor show, really. You wont regret it, and you’ll make some awesome mates for life – they’re better than bags for life and they don’t cost 5p.”
It’s still very early days for the Kenneths, yet the London-based trio played their first show just a year ago, and they’ve already completed a full run of the Warped Tour across America and the UK. This month, they head out on tour again, before going straight into the studio to record their debut album with a punk rock legend, although we’re not allowed to say who yet. Basically, if you haven’t already heard of them then you soon will, and if you like the kind of catchy, upbeat, rapid punk rock pioneered by the Ramones, and later popularised by Green Day, then here’s that new band you’ve been looking for. Hey! Ho! Let’s go!
Josh Weller (vocals/guitar): “People keep asking us if we are The Kenneths or just Kenneths. We don’t really know – we haven’t made up our mind yet. What we do is pretty simple. We try and play good songs really fast. This year we’ll be following up our EPs K and E with a double N side. The rest of the year will be spent playing shows across Europe and trying to see if we can get away with an album called ETHS.”
It’s impossible to define The Computers’ sound because they’re constantly evolving with every record, but their hybrid of hardcore punk, ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, vintage pop, and supercharged rhythm & blues never fails to beguile or bemuse, and it’s that refusal to repeat themselves that makes them such an exciting proposition. As singer Screamin’ Al Kershaw pointed out at a recent show, ‘We can change our clothes, but we can’t change our souls,’ and whilst the new garish cocktail jackets might be a million miles away from the beer soaked shirts and piss-stained jeans of their early days, The Computers will always be punk at heart, and right now they sound better than ever. You want the news? Here’s the blues…
Aiden Sinclair (drums): “2016 will mark a big return from The Computers. After a while hidden in the depths of deepest darkest Devon, we’re now fully loaded with a new album to unleash into the eardrums of the pining millions. It feels like a new start for us. There have been changes to the line up to provide maximum power to a front line rock ‘n’ roll band, and this new record will highlight the loves, losses and lives of The Computers. Beware, we are coming for you, and you can’t hide… from The Computers.”
SONIC BOOM SIX
This lot have become something of an institution in the British underground scene. They combine ska, punk and hip-hop in the same way that Skindred combine reggae, rock and metal to create a unique package that’s politicised and perfect for partying. Their cocktail of sound isn’t for everyone; if you lean more towards simple three-chord punk rock with distorted guitars, then their assimilation of poppier elements might put you off. But if you like upbeat music with a message then you’d be hard pressed to find a band that does it better, apart from the inimitable Enter Shikari. In fact, it was Shikari’s go-to-guy Dan Weller (Sikth guitarist) who produced the latest SB6 album, and his studio expertise of combining live instrumentation and electronics made him the perfect candidate to help the Manchester band take their sound to the next level. With a new album, record label, and line-up now firmly in place, that’s precisely what they’re out to achieve in 2016.
Barney Barnes (bass/vocals): “After the obstacles we’ve overcome through over the past year and a half - losing our record label, management and drummer in a matter of months – it’s quite possible a lot of bands would have thrown in the towel. With SB6, that was never really an option. In the current political climate we still have so much with need to say and do. The fact that we’re about to sign a record deal and move onto a new chapter of the band with our new album The F-Bomb is a testament to the support of our fans; not only did they pay for the record to be made, it’s their patience and belief in us that’s meant we’ve been able to work our way out of a bad situation and into the truly great place we’re at now. We’ve all gone through changes in our personal lives since the last record, but Sonic Boom Six remains at the forefront of our lives and 2016 is the year we’re going to be back in the thick of the music scene. Whether you love us or hate us, as always, they’ll be no one else doing it quite like we do.”
After a few years away from making music and tour managing other bands, ex-Lightyear frontman Chas Palmer-Williams finally picked up his old acoustic guitar in 2013 and started penning songs again. Frankly, we’re over the moon to have him back._ ‘If someone else asks me what I really do for a living, I’m going to scream / I was the leader in a mildly successful ‘90s ska-punk band / Where’ve you been man, where’ve you been?’_ That opening line from the riotously titled Re-Cite It, You Scum (in tribute to the late GG Allin) is just one example of the elegiac, emotive, and immensely entertaining lyricism that runs throughout his debut solo album, American Smile, British Teeth. If you came of age during the late ‘90s, when punk and ska ruled the roost on both sides of the pond, then the references littered throughout this record will fill you with nostalgic bliss, and you’ll keep coming back for more. If Shane Meadows ever does decide to make This is England ’98, he’s already got his soundtrack sorted.
Chas Palmer-Williams: “2016: the year of the amoeba in the Russian cheese calendar. You think you’re the bees elbows, don’t you? Well mate, guess what? I’m going to get hold of you and give you the biggest dead arm a year has ever had. Firstly, I’m going to have a baby. Yeah, you ‘eard, a baby! Then I’m going to tour my new album, play some festivals and start writing the new album. The songs are already on their way, actually, you filthy maggot of a year! If I see you hanging out with 2010 again, you know what happens? Atomic wedgie.”
THE KING BLUES
Last but by no means least, ladies and gentleman, we give you The King Blues. This is the comeback of 2016, for sure. Their split in 2012 left a hole in the British punk scene that’s been so far left unfilled. Thank fuck, then, that The King Blues are back to do it themselves. Bored with the current musical landscape and aggravated with the crimes of our political leaders, the original trio of Itch, Jamie Jazz and Fruitbag have pushed aside their differences and laid former grudges to rest in pursuit of the greater good, namely putting on rabble-rousing live shows, writing era-defining punk rock records, and attempting to overthrow the government in the process. Having been privy to the recording of their first collection of new material since reforming – this writer actually lent gang vocals to some of the songs, but don’t let that put you off – we can wholeheartedly assure you that it stands up against the beloved favourites from Under the Fog, Save the World, Get the Girl and Punk & Poetry. They head out on tour with Enter Shikari shortly, and as Joe Strummer once said, “The future is unwritten…”
Itch (vocals): “2016 is going to be a big year for The King Blues. We’re getting back together and going on tour with our comrades in Enter Shikari this month. We’ll be releasing some music, too – an EP called Off With Their Heads. This summer we’ll also be doing a bunch of festivals in the UK, and at some point during the year were going to take down the Prime Minister David Cameron and throw him in the Thames. All in all, it should be a good year.”