Penrith Bands

As I was starting to research for this blog I came across info about the “Chevettes”, the “Sconeheads”, “Aftermath” and the “Renwick Bats;. Great names all of them. But what did they sound like? I  could find very little info online, and I did not remember enough to write anything from experience.

The other day I got a surprise mail from Mike Hodgson from Penrith, that went something like this:
Hi, I just read your message about the punk in Carlisle blog. I was in many of the early Penrith based bands (Chevettes, First Offenders, Too Much Too Soon etc and played a few gigs in Carlisle with bands like the Ironing Boards the Limps and so on. Ok, most of my memories are clouded by booze and weed but it was still an amazing time. I also have quite a few early recordings from most of the early Penrith bands if they’re any use?” For me, Xmas had come soon…
Mike wrote a sort of a bio…giving some background info and some photos to go with the mp3 recordings.

For those who don’t know where Penrith is located, it is about 20 miles south of Carlisle, it was/is a market town surounded by farms, hills of the Pennines and the Lake District, although it has grown over the years it still retains its “village” characteristics. I used to go there to practice with “The Red Aligatorz” in the early days (Ellie came from Penrith) and I played a punk festival there with my band “Frenzy” in 1982, and Pete Mitchel answered an advertisement that Dung and I stuck up in the Pink Panther Record shop while looking for a bass player (you can read more in the Frenzy page).

Being a small town it has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of its advantages (for me) is the humour that comes from the people (the same can be said for the West Cumbrians) and this can be seen in the songs that Mike has donated to this blog. It is a great insight of the bands from the late 70s until the 80s from a town that was even more cut-off than Carlisle was when it came to visiting bands, it really was a “D.I.Y. Punk”, and a small community; as Mike said in one of his mails regarding the bio…”I’ll do a brief timeline sort of thing this weekend. I tried to do a family tree years ago but the scene was so incestuos it got ridiculous.”

My thanks go to Mike for this contribution… the rest is in Mike’s words:

“Ok, here’s a rough timeline of the Early Penrith Punk Bands:

1976: The ‘Honour’ of being first goes to either ‘The Remains’ a School based covers band who may or may not have gigged or to an unamed 3 piece (Gordon Sisson, Paul Allan and Derek Ealand) who did at least 2 gigs.

1977: In my view the first true punkband was the Renwick Bats (Original line up: Gordon Sisson, Pete Mitchell, Mike Snaith and Barry McNeil) They played what is generally considered to be the towns first true punk gig at St Andrews Parish rooms. Over the following few years the line up changed totally many times!

The Chevettes: Formed after seeing the ‘Bats’ first gig they consisted of Mike Hodgson, Gary Waugh, Mark Lynan and Trevor Brough.

The Crabs, Hmmm not 100% on this but I think they were one of those bands that existed but didn’t actually do much. 1978/79: The Chevettes and the Bats both split around the same time and the First Offenders, Pete Mitchell, Mike Hodgson, Barry McNeil and Gary Waugh arose from the wreckage.

There were also a few short lived bands such as The Wall (Robin Ion, Chris Green, David Bracken Stephen Pattinson (I think) and the legendary Bored Planx (David Warwick, Steve Baglee and 2 others whose name s escape me)

Gordon Sisson reappeared with, firstly ‘Radios Appear” (Gordon Sisson, Craig Lewthwaite and one other) Followed closely by ‘The Sconeheads (Gordon Sisson, David Bracken, Steve Carruthers and Barry McNeil) and were the only local band to release a 7″ single the awesome ‘Sconeheads go Buckskin’ EP

As for venues there were very few. St Andrews Parish rooms being used several times (Including for the Anti Royal Wedding gig) Other places were various church youth clubs and the council run Youth centre (Where the UK subs played!) There were hardly any Pub gigs as most of the players were under 18 a the time although The Tudor did host a few in 79.

Am I still playing? Nah, I’ve ‘retired’ The gigs I did with the reformed ‘thee Overdose’ were (Probably) the last I’ll play… wanna buy A Gibson SG and a Marshall amp? lol”

Here is the recordings Mike sent, a great mix of material that gives a overview of bands in Penrith:

Bored Planx
Demo mp3s

Chevettes
Demo mp3s

Some photos of the Chevettes

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First Offenders
Demo mp3s

Some photos of the First Offenders

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Radios Appear
Demo mp3s

Sconeheads
Demo mp3s

Sconeheads Videos
youtube links for the Penrith band “The Sconeheads” playing the tracks:
D’ya want duffed
Larry Grayson Is A Gestapo Agent
Bathtime funtime

Renwick Bats
Some photos
renwick bats1Renwick Bats

Aftermath
Some photos and a comment via FB “Milbourne Arms FootballClub I was at this gig. Arrived with Carlisle punks only for a well known Wigton lad to start fighting with my mate. I sorted it out (verbally). Later on the same.Wigton lad pulled a knife out and started slashing his wrists. It was like the NYC East Village comes to Silloth.”
aftermath (1)aftermath (2)

Jellybaby Overdose
Some photos

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The Wall
Some photos

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A mention on the web of 2 Penrith bands, but very little information.  Click on the link for the source:
Cumbria
Crabs (Penrith, 77); Renwick Bats (Penrith)”

Penrith’s Red Aligatorz

I joined the Red Aligatorz in November 1985, I knew there was a band already, I did not join from the beginning; but I never knew much about them. Ellie has sent me some photos and text to shed light on the Red Aligatorz that were around in Penrith (20 miles south of Carlisle) in early 1985.

Penrith had (and has) its own music scene, and a lot of band came out of Penrith that are still remembered today. The Aligatorz were not the hard core Rockabilly band that it later became but a more light hearted, chaotic band that was sprinkled with Cumbrian humour.

I will let Ellie tell the story:
“Here are a couple of photos the first is of Mark Simpson, he was the rhythm guitarist whom you ousted !! The photo was taken in Stars and Stripes (1985) just before a gig. The other photo is of us on stage the same night.
Mark is from Penrith, the last time I saw him he was playing lead guitar in a blues/rock band.

Image (2)penriths red aligatorz

(Trotsky: in the fore ground I recognize Kate Hooper, Julie Pagan, and possibly Duncan Todhunter R.I.P.)

This is the only picture I have from the very first band, to have the Red Aligatorz name, I can’t say it was the same band as there are different people in it and we did different material entirely. We played mostly original material, very few covers.

ellie simpson

The photo is of me and Gordon Sission, we had arranged to do some publicity photos one sunday morning but only the 2 of us turned up! People in that band were:
Ellie – double bass
Gordon Sission – lead guitar
Johnny Routledge (R.I.P.) – rhythm guitar/vocals
Howard Mills – drums (Trevor Halliday played the drums at first but he retired early…)

I suppose perhaps the old The Aligatorz was established in the Penrith area anyway. It was more punk/psychobilly than our version.. We did do
several gigs over the short time we were playing. They were the fellows that showed me the basic idea of bass playing. I’d never played in a band before that. Just on me own trying to learn by listening to the records. Sadly Johnny the singer passed away a few years ago. He was a very nice chap. Never saw so many people at a funeral.. damn shame”.

penriths poster

We played a few gigs around Penrith and a couple at Stars and Stripes as support for other bands. There is a recording somewhere, but maybe the Gods of rock and roll and found it and burned it !!”

(Trotsky: A name that later came part of the musical history of Penrith and Carlisle is “Gordon” he was in the Sconeheads and in the song “Gordon is always trying to be hip” (See Penrith’s page in this blog).

gatorz ticket

I am not sure if this ticket is part of the Penrith’s Red Aligatorz line up or when I was in the band? (I can not remember the gig !!) but if it is the Penrith line up then it was an early gig, well before I joined.

Swanny joined the band next and he brought his friend Paul Watson on drums. so the line up was:
Ellie – double bass
Mark Simpson – rhythm guitar
Swanny – lead guitar
Wotto – drums

Ellie sent me a cassette recording of a rehearsal the Aligatorz did, under this line up. It is a recording that could be mimicked all over the country. The first few songs are OK, then the amps are turned up and the sound gets less clear. Never the less that is what it was like ! It is the sound of the 80s.

What was noticeable for me was the rhythm guitar being electric, and this gave the whole sound a very different feel. Also you can hear the playful style to the music, “Tequila” being one of their favourites!

The verbal banter is reflected between Swanny and Wotto and it gives a good idea of what the rehearsals were like, they had a history of living together in Blackpool and their skits are very dominant…in fact I can not hear the Penrith boys at all. There is an element of Psychobilly in there too, a sing of the times perhaps?

4 thoughts on “Penrith Bands”

  1. Crabs were early 76 and did original material. I know cos I wrote it. They were Paul Bowerbank, Jasper Maudsley and Mike Winder. Existed for 6 months, played Mick’s Carlisle, and some other stuff- I think the Brewery ? Interviewed in one of first Sniffin Glue and we were crap and being the lone Penrith punk band before it became hip we couldn’t get gigs. That and we were crap. We broke up late summer to go to Uni etc then started getting offers to play -including support to Chelsea but we couldn’t. I returned to Penrith at xmas and others were starting up. We did nowt but we did it first. I do remember those other bands but I had gone to Leeds by the time they started up. And I am still gigging – Jesus and Mary Chain stuff and Augustines stuff only…. hence the name https://www.facebook.com/jesusandtheaubergines
    I might still be crap but not crap enough to do jazz yet thankfully.

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  2. To fill in a few Gaps, the original 1976 band was ‘Sister Josephine”, who were the only ones doing original material at that time also the missing members of legendary Bored Planx (David Warwick, Steve Baglee, Johnny Wide, and Paul Allen) and ‘Radios Appear” (Gordon Sisson, Craig Lewthwaite, Derek Eland and Paul Allen).

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  3. What a great, and very accurate, history. I remember this really well including the evening when the photos of The Wall were taken. Bliss it was ……..

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