Legendary punk/oi titans THE GONADS are back with another red-hot testimony to the gutsy spirit of South London hooligan rock and roll. 'Glorious Bastards' is 18 tracks of filth and fury, released by Contra Records in Germany. It mixes protest ('Oily Rag', 'Ian Tomlinson', 'Fat Cat Splat') with pure punk anthems ('Noise Bastards', 'Spring-Heel'd Jack'), respect ('Billy McFadzean'), sauce ('Badly Done', 'Reinfected') and street culture ('Charlton Boys').
Punk, oi, oi-tone, oi-core... call us what you will, THE GONADS have been kicking against the pricks since 1977, with a back catalogue of classic songs including 'Jobs Not Jails', 'Tucker's Ruckers', 'TNT', 'The Joys Of Oi', 'I Lost My Love (To A UK Sub'), 'Alconaut', 'Oi, Mate' and 'Punk Rock Will Never Die.'
We were street-punk before the term was invented, helping to launch the 'real punk' movement that was oi – a howl of rage from the terraces, back streets and council estates of the UK that found an echo around the world. Oi! ain't about posing and preening. It's about who we are: the English working class, having a laugh and having a say. The GONADS hate snobbery, ignorance, apathy, bigotry and PC bores. We support unity across our scenes. As our friend Garry Johnson said, back in 1981: "United is the thing to be, think how strong we can be, united against society."
PHIL McDERMOTT, guitar
Phil cut his teeth playing guitar for several rock and metal bands during the NWOBH movement in the late 70s/early 80s. Signed to Ebony Records at a young age, he was experienced in both studio and live work by his early 20s.
Phil played for local bands with such fine monikers as Mad Frankie and "Punxaholix" in his 30s, but found himself drifting more and more towards Punk and Oi gigs. This led to him being asked to play in bands such as The Eastend Badoes, The Straps, The Concrete Gods, and of course The Mighty Gonads!
Phil plays through Orange amplification and his first choice of guitars are a 1991 Gibson Les Paul Classic and a 1982 Jaydee Custom Explorer, both guitars running Barenuckle Humbucker pickups.
Gal Gonad, vocals – Keeping It Rude!
I grew up loving Trojan reggae, Tamla, Ska, Slade, Bowie, glam, Hendrix and heavy rock bands – Sabbath, Lizzy etc. I caught the punk bug in 76. The late 70s were a special time; there were so many great bands about. As well as the obvious Clash/Pistols/Buzzcocks etc, I really rated The Ruts, the Jam and the Skids. Then there were Madness, the Specials, the Cockney Rejects, the Upstarts, Cock Sparrer, Iron Maiden, Rose Tattoo, UFO, The Saints, Motorhead, Secret Affair, the Small Hours... I could reel off a long list. Later the Business, Blitz, Dexys, the Burial, and the Blood who should have been massive – just as Case should have been. I loved the power and aggression of hardcore, especially Black Flag, the Bad Brains and Agnostic Front. All the giants: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Springsteen, Costello, Dury, Max Miller, Judge Dread. Fifties US rock, Sixties UK rock – especially The Kinks and the Small Faces. These days I'm into everything from Random Hand and Rancid to Buster Shuffle via Booze & Glory, Night Of Treason, Maninblack, Pope and Rival Sons all of whom feature regularly on my podcast.
As well as the Gonads, I co-created Prole with Steve Kent and was nefariously involved with the Orgasm Guerrillas. I recently formed the SkaNads as a Gonads spin-off devoted to rude reggae of the 69 kind. I write songs on a Yamaha FX370C and a JS 1600.
Nickname: The Colonel.
PAUL MUMMERY, drums/percussion
It started in 1990. I was 15 and sat on a train pulling into Victoria station when I read a review of Iron Maiden's Donington appearance in the paper. I remembered that I really liked their 'Can I Play With Madness' single from a couple of years earlier, so I bundled off the train into Our Price Records on the concourse and grabbed their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album.
Half an hour later I was growing my hair and throwing out every other album I owned. Except for my Adam and the Ants tape.
My new love for heavy metal quickly morphed into its more extreme derivatives - thrash and death. And at the same time I got into punk through the Sex Pistols, then The Clash, Dead Kennedys and The Exploited.
I joined my first band Internal Scream in 1991 but it wasn't until I got together with a couple of mates in 1993 to form punk band Tapeworm that I took playing seriously. That was when I started gigging and where I learned to drum and sing - a combination my friends still rue to this day.
1994 to 1996 were the experimental years; I was listening to all sorts of odd stuff which was reflected in the ambitious post-rock ambient punk noise jams of my next band Fluxs. I'd been holed up in an old stable in Streatham for a couple of years with them, until I managed to sneak out for a day on the lash with my mates to watch THAT England v Scotland game. I was done playing music - I'd rediscovered my beloved football again and I didn't have space for both. No more bands followed for the next seven years until I was coaxed out of creative purdah at 28 into a Balham rehearsal room to form Blue Rat. We were a much more down to earth proposition than my previous outfit: Oi!-Metal! someone called it, which I quite liked. The others wanted us to be a proper metal band and play metal gigs but I wrote a load of punk songs and fronted the band so it was my voice, my rules. They hated it. But I got us a support with Anti Nowhere League at a pub in Croydon on a Tuesday night, and Slayer never returned their calls, so I won that one.
Meanwhile, psychobilly was taking more of a hold of me and in 2009 after a four year break from bands I got back behind the kit and the mic again to form the short lived Johnny and the Deathrays. Sin Kings, Mickey and the Mutants, The Noxious Toyz and Boston Rats all followed, and I'm currently with Norm and the Nightmarez, and The Bastard Sons of Cavan.
I came to The Gonads through spin-off band The SkaNads with whom I did a 7" single and I've played on the last three Gonads albums.
Gear - A Sonor kit and some second hand cymbals from a shop in Lavender Hill.
CLYDE WARD, bass
Played in Rock bands since school. Thin Lizzy fanatic (own everything they ever did till Phil popped his clogs - R.I.P.) Loved early Ska and also 2-tone. Punk and Oi stopped me in my tracks. The aggression and the visceral nature of it. I wanted to be part of that. Signed to EMI and then Warners before I was 20, did the Rockstar bit and have the scars. Met Gal (so far back I can't remember) and The Gonads became a labour of love for me. We wrote and recorded a ton of stuff and it just worked, there was some kind of magic there. I now produce everything from Street Punk to Indie Metal. I play Bass for The Gonads.
WATTSIE WATTS, backing vocals
Wattsie grew up in Brixton, South London. Her first performance was at four years old – at a BBC staff kids' party where she belted out an impromptu version of an old London ditty about drinking too much. Clearly Gonadery has always been in her blood. Wattsie's first love was Adam Faith in the TV show Budgie and she still a holds a candle for him; musically it was Bowie, Bolan and Slade. Her football teams are Chelsea and Fisher Athletic.
She was 13 when she attended her first-ever gig – the Anti Nazi League carnival in Brockwell Park in 1978 when Stiff Little Fingers and Elvis Costello played. By early 1979, the Mod revival had become her Way of Life. Wattsie ran an info service and magazine for her school mates' band The Apocalypse who supported The Jam in 1980, '81 and finally on the road in '82 for their last tour. She was also the magazine's (and band's) Agony Aunt, before leaving school in 1983. She has spent her adult life gigging and has championed many bands along the way.
When pressed she confessed to having inspired five songs (that she's aware of) and has been favourably mentioned in Tony Fletcher's book Boy About Town (about the music of the late 70s) and Garry Johnson's Punk Rock Stories & Tabloid Tales. In early 2006 Wattsie worked with Rick Buckler's The Gift managing the fans' forum and guest requests right through to From The Jam. She left FTJ when Rick walked. In early 2007 she was persuaded to be a flag girl for the Gonads although she wasn't impressed when barking mad Scottish drummer RD McGonad blew his nose on the flag. She went on to join the band on stage for a couple of duets with Gal and graduated to recording the lead vocals on 'Badly Done'. Before long the Nads realised they could not do without her input of class and cheek...
How It All Began
The Gonads began in the backstreets of Charlton, London SE7 in 1977. The five-piece band grew out of the remnants of Garry Bushell's earlier schoolboy band Pink Tent, who were influenced by the Small Faces and Monty Python with a pinch of Slade, Mott and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
Inspired by the Clash and the Pistols, Pink Tent were re-born as punk band the Gonads souping-up many of their earlier songs such as 'Rob A Bank' and 'Pink Tent'. The early set also included cover versions of AC DC's 'Big Balls' and the Small Faces' 'Filthy Rich' as well as forgotten numbers like 'Red Army', 'Antigalligan Last Bell', 'Darling Harold', 'The Legend of Sam Bartram' and 'Ripper's Delight'. The original line-up were together for less than a year, playing at local pubs such as the Lads Of The Village in Charlton and at parties. The band released just one single 'Stroke My BeachComber Baby' b/w 'Big Balls' on their own Scrotum label, and were completely ignored by the rock press.
Years later the music journalist Christine Cousins described them as having been "as tight as a gnat's fore-skin and louder than a Bernard Manning belch." But others remember them as being rather more chaotic than that sounds. The Gonads attracted a loyal local following including Tucker and his Ruckers, the Indus Skins and the Charlton Boys.
Highlights of this first incarnation included the legendary acoustic tour of South London curry houses. They also unsuccessfully approached Charlton striker Derek 'Gypo' Hales for management. When he turned them down, for a laugh they accepted a management offer from a local character called Dodgy Dave Long who immediately decided the band should stop gigging and "hold back until the time is right". They would never have been heard of again if Garry - Gal Gonad - hadn't reformed the band in 1981 to show solidarity with the Oi Movement. Gal was in the forefront of Oi, he managed the Cockney Rejects and compiled the first four Oi albums. The second and most famous Gonads line-up included Steve Kent on guitar (later replaced by Steve Whale, Clyde Ward and then JJ Bedsore) and Mark Brennan on bass, with a succession of drummers including at one stage Mark Brabbs from Tank.
Long was replaced as manager by the poet Garry Johnson who famously lived "in an 'ouse in 'Ackney with an outside loo" and the band's golden era beganin earnest. The Gonads were famously "street-socialist" with a commitment to older working class traditions, including Music Hall and stag comics. The 'Pure Punk For Row People' ep ran the Anti-Nazi League phone number on the back (along with ones for Alcoholics Anonymous and Beki Bondage) and the band supported the Prisoners' Rights organization and the League Of Labour Skins.
Classic Gonads recordings such as 'Jobs Not Jails', 'Dying For A Pint', 'Punk Rock Will Never Die' 'I Lost My Love To A UK Sub' (based on a true story), 'Tucker's Ruckers Ain't No Suckers', 'Hitler Was A Homo', and 'The Joys Of Oi' established them as one of the greatest Oi! bands of all time. The Gonads found time to kick-start Punk Pathetique, and successfully pioneered the punk/metal cross-over with the song 'TNT' on the Total Noise ep as well.
Like most of their contemporaries, the band drifted apart over the next couple of years but the Gal Gonad/Steve Kent alliance went on to create both Prole and the Orgasm Guerrillas as studio projects. Gal also managed Charlton's other anarchic sons The Blood (1984-5).
The Gonads weren't to exist in a concrete form again until 1990 when Gal teamed up with old buddies Clyde Ward and Colin Blood (Cardinal Jesushate) to record the original versions of 'Lager Louts' and 'British Steel'. They jammed a bit, but nothing serious happened until 1996 when Gal and Clyde recorded 'The Lottery Song' and the as yet unreleased 'Mystic Meg' and 'Give Her A Dog For Xmas'. A year later, they recruited Casanova Kev on bass and the core of the new Gonads was born to record the comeback single 'Oi! Nutter' b/w '(What's The Story?) England's Glory'.
In 1998, the Gonads toured the USA with Rockin' Dave on guitar and the Romulan on drums. Albums 'Back & Barking', 'Schitz-oi-phrenia' and 'Old Boots, No Panties' followed, along with a Rebellion appearance in Blackpool. The Ska song 'Oi Mate' proved to be the band's most popular live song to date. But Clyde's production commitments kept them off the road for long periods of time. Frustrated, Gal was about to break up the Gonads once and for all until New York fan André Schlesinger (formerly of The Press, now with Maninblack) persuaded him to keep going. Gal recruited Tony Feedback (ex-Angelic Upstarts) and Scoops (of Superyob) on bass and with a changing procession of drummers (including the legendary Paul MacGonad of Waysted) began gigging regularly again. 2008 saw the 'Live Free, Die Free' album; followed at the end of 2009 by 'Glorious Bastards'.
In 2009 the band played Germany (the Punk & Disorderly Festival) and Sweden for the first time, returning to Germany for a mini-tour and the Total Oi Festival in 2010. A brief, inglorious period saw legendary rock lunatic RD (aka "MacGonad") join as drummer, however this association ended after just four gigs because of what it would be polite to describe as "musical differences." But maniacal RD did help put together a hard-hitting line-up of Gal, Nacho Jase (guitar) and Mick Maverick (bass). They were joined on drums by South Coast Steve, the world mumbling champion. Under the watchful eye of associate comrade manager FB, the new Gonads bounced ever upwards and onwards towards our goal of Professionalism. However progress is not always smooth and after playing Germany, France, Glasgow, London, Rebellion, Charlton Liberal Club and a major festival in the North East of England, and recording two glorious Greater Hits albums, the mighty quartet went their separate ways with no hard feelings. Fast forward to 2015 and the new and latest incarnation of the Gonads began to take shape with Phil 'Badoe' McDermott joining on lead guitar, Paul Mummery crossing over from the SkaNads and Wattsie Watts promoted to full-time backing vox. Greater Hits Volume 3 – The Complete Cobblers confirmed the combo's new-found lease of life. Gentleman John returned briefly on bass guitar but was permanently replaced at the beginning of 2017 by the legendary Clyde Ward. This new permanent line-up sees the band enter our fortieth year (celebrated as "Forty Years of Failure") with their loins very much girded. With new recordings on the horizon, Miss Management running mission control and a triumph live debut at Montpellier's Festival of England already under their belt it feels as if the Gonads story has only just begun. Be afraid, people. Be very afraid.
By Colin 'Fat Col' Gannon, tour manager, Addick and lifelong fan