With a sound described as ‘obscurist he-said/she-said bedsit pop’ by Fact magazine, the Beach Bullies have come back to life after a hibernation that lasted from the mid 1980’s until 2015. Astutely correct observational pop songs with witty, acerbic lyrics and killer choruses were first available on the collectors’ album ‘We Rule The Universe,’ recently re-discovered and re-released by Manufactured Recordings of Brooklyn NY. The Beach Bullies are now properly back in action, in the studio and on stage, with a flexible line-up of musicians, both long-time collaborators and new recruits, and still, as in 1980, featuring a drum machine at the root of the rhythm section.
Fact also commented that ‘The Bullies record intermingles the stripped drum machine melancholy of Young Marble Giants with a more energetic restlessness closer to The Cleaners From Venus and Hitchcock’s own work of the period, or more acutely, that of The Vaselines, whose own “fuck off” laissez-faire attitude is comparable – though for my money the Bullies’ strain of weirdness trumps that of the Scottish duo.’
And that’ll do nicely, as far as I’m concerned!
Beginning my music career in the mid-1970s, including a spell as a collaborator with pre-Soft Boys Robyn Hitchcock, I was just the right age when punk and new wave arrived with a scabrous if welcome fanfare, and wielding a cheap electric guitar, I left the folk clubs and discos of my teenage years behind. In 1978 I formed The Containers, the first version of which featured Stella Barker, later to find pop fame in The Bodysnatchers and The Belle Starrs, and Adrian Hots Foster, my bass-player of choice for several decades now. Stella departed, Josephine Buchan joined, and we gigged the usual London venues in late 1979, but the fun did not last long.
The Beach Bullies first formed as a solo project in 1980 in the wake of the Containers split. The purchase of a primitive drum machine freed me from personnel hassles, giving me the grooves I needed to make my songs work well live with the electric guitar and nothing else. Keeping the stripped back instrumentation, but adding chanteuse Jull Fricker meant I could use duets and female solo songs written for the Containers, and to be more experimental in my approach, to writing. Within a few weeks of our live debut we signed deal, and a few months later We Rule the Universe was released. We had a couple of good reviews, and gained airplay on the legendary John Peel Show, before a combination of factors, including Jill moving from London, saw the Beach Bullies change directions several times and ultimately grind to a halt in the mid ‘80s.
When Manufactured Recordings contacted me in early 2015, I was surprised and delighted, not least because it was the perfect timing for a career change, and a resumption of gigging and recording. 2017 saw The Containers studio sessions released on vinyl, also on Manufactured, and new sessions for an EP scheduled for release in 2018. The present line-up includes electric ukulelist Bettina Schroeder, vocalists Leoncia Flynn (Leonheart) and Eileen Quashie, Hots Foster on bass, and Alex Rickard on guitar. Drummer Morris Windsor also joins us when we become The Containers.