Dung – acoustic guitar/vocals
Trotsky – acoustic guitar/banjo ukulele/vocals
Ellie – cardboard boxes, chairs, beer barrels…anything except a proper drum kit/vocals
Smoo – acoustic guitar/vocals
The International Dole Cheques or as it was sometimes called “The Wild West Show” was an anarchic drunken mishmash of styles, people and music. It existed during the Red Aligatorz period, and Ellie was playing drums. The Dole Cheque’s influences were George Formby, The Pogues, The Vulcan’s, Snake-bite Cider, and a condemned flat that dung lived in. We used to rehearse in Dung’s room, a condemned flat which was falling apart (where Morrison’s now stands), in Rickergate. It stank, it had rats, and it had a Buddhist living in the room next door. It was where we met, drank, and rehearsed. We did a few recordings and they were bloody good, because we were all coming from previous bands: Dung (Frenzy, Nightmares…), Ellie (Red Aligatorz) and myself (Red Aligatorz); Smoo joined the 3 of us later. The 3 of us were a busking band, we did our first concert underneath the “Binn’s” department store on a Saturday afternoon in the Centre of Carlisle and we got ourselves an audience…that stood quite far off! so I had to shout even louder.
This photo was taken outside of Dung’s condemned flat before a trip to do some busking in town
We did not have any full lyrics, only part of songs and as I was mainly the singer I used to make them up or just shout babble until the chorus came round. We did the chorus to The Vulcan’s song “The Hard Hate Zone” and “Ugly”, Ellie and I going out to dance around while Dung scream the lyrics.
I had seen The Vulcan’s busking in Florence and Amsterdam in 1983 and I was greatly impressed, they used to command large audiences with their crazy highly energetic performances and the Dole Cheques were certainly a part of that. Ellie and myself, by chance busked with The Vulcan’s in Covent Garden (London) when we were down there doing a concert with The Red Aligatorz, and after the few numbers we did with some of The Vulcan’s I have never felt so knackered, the output of energy was amazing. They had a mixture of comedy, good musicianship and entertainment, something the Dole Cheques never had!
Besides the few Vulcan choruses/songs most of our material was written by ourselves…it is amazing we could still write!
This Train (Ellie),
It’s so bad its unreliable (Trots),
I wish I was a bicycle Seat (Trots)
Here we go (Trots)
The Hole (Trots)
I’m Lost (Trots)
Here are some recordings of the International Dole Cheques, recorded in Dung’s flat in 1985. I will insert them into the page of The Dole Cheques. The line up is Ellie, Dung, Smoo and myself. Tracks 1 and 4 were written by Dung; track 9 was written by Ellie; tracks 5, 6, and 8 were written by me; track 2 is an old Blues/Skiffle number; and tracks 3, 7, and 10 were based on the songs by The Vulcans, we did not know all of their lyrics so we made them up.
Another set of songs by the Dole Cheques, recorded on another day. Additions to the above list is a song called “The Hole” (track 9) written in Amsterdam; and “Here We Go” (track 10) and track 11 “I Am Lost”. All these songs were written by me.
We did not play much in Carlisle, but we did play a lot outside of Carlisle… mainly in Amsterdam on the Leiderspein, and Dam Rank, and the 3 of us we did a concert in the squat/bar called “Pal” where we “held” the audience similar to The Vulcans’. When Smoo had joined us we went back to Amsterdam and supported Chumbawamba in the squat “Vrankrijk” (I managed to track down a recording of the Chumbawamba gig, see the Links page), but there is no mention of us playing, not surprising really, as it was madness: Ellie breaking his drum stick and cutting his eye open with the splinters, blood everywhere; and Smoo diving off the stage into the audience…it all went wrong, we were shit and we broke up. I don’t think the Dutch crowd knew hat hit them.
The final bunch of recordings back in Carlisle, you can tell by now we had a lot of songs about trains!
The video is taken from the recordings of the condemned flat, the song is written by myself “It’s so bad it is unbelievable” inspired by George Formby (R.I.P.), the photo is taken on the Dam Rank, Amsterdam.