So What! I hear you cry and you know what, you would be correct! Who are we discussing, I hear you ask? Well, it’s the infamous sons of Royal Tunbridge Wells, the Anti-Nowhere League of course!
Never heard of them? Well they have been around the punk scene on-and-off since 1980 and could be best described as Kent’s obnoxious answer to our very own Peter & The Test Tube Babies, but with added menace.
The Anti-Nowhere League are a band that were always as confrontational as say the Sex Pistols, by writing songs littered with obscenities, their most famous ditty ‘So What!’, in fact name checks Hastings, Brighton and Eastbourne as well as several outrageous lines. These lines were delivered in a believable depraved style by towering tattooed lead singer Animal aka Nick Culmer. Yes, we all believed it was true back then in the early 1980’s. So did the police and thus this came to a head when the boys in blue raided the band’s distributors under the Obscene Publications Act and seized all of the copies of the 7” single which had by now peaked just outside the Top 40 at No.48 in January 1982.
Funnily enough, the song was actually the b-side of the record and the one everyone was purchasing their vinyl disc for. The a-side being a revved-up punk version of the Ralph McTell classic ‘Streets Of London’.
It now transpires according to the band that ‘So What!’ actually materialised out of a conversation the band overheard in a pub of a severe case of one-upmanship, whereby two men were endeavouring to out do each other with alleged stories of past experiences. Therefore the song is actually a retort to people who tell embellished stories to make themselves appear bigger and better than the other.
The Anti-Nowhere League then released their debut album ‘We Are…The League’ which wasn’t allowed to include ‘So What!’ but it didn’t stop it rocketing to No.1 in the Independent Album Charts.
About nine months or so prior to launch of their album, I was very fortunate to catch the band play live at the Lyceum in London on 24th May 1981 along with Chron Gen, Anti-Pasti, The Exploited and Discharge and today this remains one of the very best concerts that I have ever attended. A year later on 12th May 1982, I was witnessing them playing live at Brighton’s Top Rank. It was such a success, they came back three months later on 22nd August.
Singles ‘I Hate…People’ (No.46) and ‘Woman’ (No.72) followed in the same punk vein, but as time went by the band’s members came and went and their sound headed more towards metal, courtesy of Metallica covering ‘So What!’. Singer Animal (Nick) didn’t have a problem with this as he was (and still is) into his motorbikes and the style suited. They also toured with Motorhead and Rancid.
I have always said to my mates, that music moves in cycles and so wind the clock forward to the present day and the band have released an album called ‘League Style…Loosen Up Vol.1’, which sees Nick and the boys covering their fave reggae/ska songs. I couldn’t believe it when I was first told about this, but when you delve further into Nick’s history of when he was at a rough all-boys school in the late 1960’s Tunbridge Wells, him and his mates were skinheads who were well into Prince Buster, The Pioneers and the likes. So this current album is a result of finally giving the songs of their childhood the deserved credit.
Looking forward to next year, sees the current band (of Nick on vocal duties, Shady on bass, Tommy ‘H’/ Tom Hunt on guitar, ‘Crazy’ Sam Carnage on drums) dropping into Patterns on Brighton seafront – recently known as Audio and prior to that as The Escape Club to old punks – on Saturday 10th February 2018 to play a blistering set of decent songs.
The band still have a loyal following around the country and Europe, so it is very likely that this event will sell out, so purchase your tickets here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/anti-nowhere-league/patterns-brighton/1151877
For more info on the band, click here: http://www.antinowhereleague.com/
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