People from the era tell their stories.
» John Shennan
Being part of the Primates with Johnny Britton and Julian Shacklady was my introduction to the playing of music in Bristol, bringing me out of Yate/Sodbury and into the city. I had gotten in touch with Johnny via a mutual contact at that really good clothes shop in St. James Barton where everyone would go to check out the very, very latest in trouser, shoes and sun-glasses. This was the summer of when the two sevens clashed.
Within that very week the three of us rehearsed in earnest though productively in Johnny's mum and dad's front room on a very high bit of Brislington. We had a set assembled in time to play on a bill that included the Media and the Subway Sect at a club that had just opened up on Barton Hill. That was a really lively place. After a few gigs we moved down to London; I was going to university and Johnny and Julian came too. Bernard Rhodes had seen us at Barton Hill, he was managing Subway Sect among others and through him we found ourselves rehearsing at Rehearsal Rehearsal at Camden Lock. We played a few gigs in town, the Vortex in Soho and some student's union gigs in both London and Bristol. We ran out of steam in the summer of '78. It seemed the perfect time to leave university on a full-time basis.
Returning to Bristol for my birthday I met Nick Sheppard in the Locarno who asked me if I'd like to join a band; one cannot answer no to an offer like that on one's birthday. The band was The Spics with a guesting bass gig as a fill-in with the Tesco Chainstore Massacre I think with Nick, Steven and Danny Swan. It was infinitely more prefererable in Bristol than living in London, so many much nicer people it seemed.
I have had the great good fortune to have played with so many 'good', in the 'interesting' way guitarists in Bristol. Johnny Britton played with that same manic distraction as Wilko Johnson had, with a little something else, too. The combination of Johnny, Julian and I was a power trio really,a simple hard little outfit with some really funny songs that were really good fun doing. It was amusing once doing a sort of Open Mike night at the old Stonehouse where we were essentially doing three of our punkish numbers while the acts hitherto and thereafter were a mixture of finger in your ear folk, some fairly timid blues and some not very good Jazz. Our set went well I thought, but in between numbers one was handed little pieces of paper with "Your music is not liked " on them with varying degrees of righteous indignation. But to ones face, everyone was massively polite really.
Forgive my sentimentality but there was a really earthy vibrant and verdent scene of clubs around the city in the late summer of '77 and into '78 ; there seemed at least four or five places in town to play,as well as the sure fire probability of some student union and colleges spots with the occasional beer and then War Barndance. Everyone went to all the gigs, all the musicians and much of the same crowd. It was a larf.
John Shennan April 2010