People from the era tell their stories.
» Chris Martin
I left Toronto for Bristol in the summer of 1982. I was 21 and the post-punk Mecca of London's grimy lights beckoned. I was living in a warehouse on Toronto's Queen street with my band ‘The Emergency Broadcast System', rubbing shoulders with winos, Ukrainian immigrants and various down and out/unknown musos. Punk had hit Toronto hard - the Viletones, Demics, Diodes and Cardboard Brains played grimy warehouses and local bars to the drug-crazed and extreme, but by the time I had fled the suburbs for downtown it had transmogrified into the gentler new wave sounds of Martha and the Muffins and the weirder sounds of the Rent Boys and Dave Howard Singers. I was always torn between the discordant, extreme and American - The Velvets, Teenage Jesus and Jerks and the Cramps - and the darker more melodic UK sounds of Joy Division and the Bunnymen. The DIY ethic was what was happening; everyone was putting out vinyl, or if you couldn't afford that, cassettes, and fanzines were a dime a dozen. At one time there were seven bars putting on local underground bands within a 15-minute walk of where I lived.
I was working as a broadcast technician for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, earning good money engineering national news broadcasts, but the itch to move to the UK persisted. I ended up moving to London with a friend of mine, Brian Stuart, currently living in Shepton Mallet and gigging under the moniker of ‘B_E_Cooling'. We lasted about a week in London, sleeping on the floor of a flat occupied by a band we knew from Toronto, before making the trek westwards to Bristol where I was born. We ended up in a rented house in Bedminster, soon joined by Brian's mum, and this is where my Bristol story begins…
Next instalment soon…