Tag Archives: Folk Devils

Remembering Ian Lowery – The Wall Years

David Lowery is proud of his brother. He wishes he hadn’t lost touch with him in the early 90s. “I didn’t get to see him perform live with Ski Patrol” David recalls. The siblings had grown up in Hartlepool in the northeast of England. Once a thriving, industrial area with shipyards, steel mills, and coal mines, after the Second World War, by the late ’60s and early ’70s, unemployment was omnipresent with drastic changes to the British and global economies. For David’s brother Ian, his surroundings didn’t offer much opportunity or escape. So, he veered off the beaten path and began an Art Foundation course at Sunderland Polytechnic. By 1978, Ian Lowery had formed The Prefabs, this was the first of many bands he created and fronted during a prolific musical career, gaining critical acclaim both within and outside the music industry. A well-honed gutter poet since the early days of Punk, Ian developed an idiosyncratic style, fusing a natural gift for sly wordplay and often a snarky phrase for embellishment. Ian’s poignant lyrics were channeled through an explosive if not studied onstage performance. The Prefabs soon disbanded and in late 78, Ian formed The Wall with friends from Art School, John “Joe” Hammond on lead guitar, Andy Griffith on bass with drums bashed by Bruce Archibald. London indie label, Small Wonder impressed Ian with their roster of bands including, The Cure, Bauhaus, Angelic Upstarts, Crass, and more. Demo tracks were sent to the label, a deal was made, a 7” EP was released, and a few appearances on John Peel’s radio show were arranged. Eventually, The Wall fell apart and Ski Patrol came into being, followed by Folk Devils, and eventually Ian Lowery set up The Ian Lowery Group. There were a few more bands and collaborations in between, but it’s The Wall years we are going to concentrate on with David Lowery. He is going to tell the story in a conversation with Norman B and you’ll hear exclusively, previously unreleased tracks from the band. Plus, a very rare recording of Ian Lowery talking about his influences.

Sadly, Ian Lowery died way too young on July 14, 2001. His influence reached so many musicians over the years, in particular the aspiring lads in Seattle and beyond who were part of the so-called, Grunge years. This is essential listening for music aficionados of all stripes. To round out the program, I have chosen new, current music I think Ian Lowery would approve of. Enjoy!

Portions of this information and photograph are used by permission of David Lowery & http://www.ianlowery.com

Show 427

A Conversation With Kris Jozajtis

London’s Notting Hill circa early 80s was yet to be gentrified. The ubiquitous Portobello Road did bring hoards of tourists and suburbanites looking for an actual antique treasure. But the throngs who crowded the ramshackle market on a Saturday were equally delighted to witness a never-ending parade of crusty-hippy-types; rasta youths sporting fierce dreads; skinny-wasted-silk-scarf-draped-wannabe-Keefs with androgynous girlfriends in tow. Unbeknownst to the visitors, behind the raggedy dark-curtained windows of the soon-to-be desirable Victorian three and four-story homes that loomed over every street were a seemingly never-ending warren of squats. These were the days long before Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts turned Notting Hill into a magic place for millionaires to settle. It was in a squat, on a garbage-strewn street in Notting Hill that Geordie, Ian Lowery conjured up the idea for a new band. He hailed from Sunderland, the bleak, tough, coal-mining and industrial north-eastern town. It was there Ian formed The Wall. Regular airplay from John Peel and the relative success of The Wall’s debut single, New Way prompted Lowery to end up in a squat in Notting Hill. Rapid disputes within the band saw Ian Lowery form Ski Patrol. Now closely connected to fellow squatters, Killing Joke and their management, Malicious Damage, the tensions that were endemic to that scene led to Lowery forming a new band, Folk Devils with Alan Cole on Drums, Mark Whiteley on bass, and Kris Jozajtis on guitar. Their sound was a bastardized blend of punk, blues, and amphetamine-fuelled angst with the music often walking a fine line between a patchwork of brilliant musicianship and violence. The political and ideological canvass for Folk Devils was the miner’s strike, Thatcher’s Britain, mass unemployment, and the flooding of Britain’s streets with heroin and despair. Folk Devils first single Hank Turns Blue recorded for £180 (allegedly the bands combined dole money) resided at number three in the indie charts for six weeks. Three John Peel sessions followed in quick succession and subsequent recordings were critically acclaimed. Brian Taylor, of Killing Joke’s management, said at the time, “Folk Devils were a force of nature live and were never quite able to capture that ferocity on record” Ian Lowery died in 2001 having continued to work throughout the late ’80s and the early ’90s on the King Blank project and the Ian Lowery Group. In November 2015, a digital-only release album entitled The Best Protection and the BBC Sessions was made available. And, in September 2016 a collected works album entitled Beautiful Monsters was released and the band resurfaced to play live with a line-up including Dave Hodgson (vocals), Mark Whiteley (bass), Kris Jozajtis (guitar), Nick Clift (guitar), and John Hamilton (drums). Recently the new Folk Devils recorded a stellar three-track EP, titled Forever, and are performing live when the pandemic restrictions allow. Kris Jozajtis joins Life Elsewhere for an in-depth conversation about the history of Folk Devils, the Peel sessions, music now, and Ian Lowery’s boots.

Show #391

Art & Authoritarianism + Influential & Ignored

Last year before the election, Philip Kennicott, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic, imagined with clever wit, what would happen to the Arts in America if Mr. Trump became President. His scenarios were fantasy, but the context for Kennicott’s creativity was built on facts: In a gallery in Chelsea, New York, a crudely made sculpture of the new president sitting on a toilet, using the Constitution as tissue paper is ignored by collectors and critics, but amusing passersby. A church group is outraged, the President comments, “It’s disgraceful, they take your tax dollars to make this filth.” Agitated vandals are prompted to spray-paint graffiti on the gallery’s windows. Only they get the neighborhood right, but the address wrong. Many in the art world are amused, but it worries others. We are barely two weeks into the new Presidency and Kennicott’s question,“What would happen to the arts if this country turned to authoritarian leadership?” is more chilling than ever. Philip Kennicott even manages to add a swipe at climate-change deniers in his perceptive commentary for the Washington Post. Next on Life Elsewhere, a repeat of an important discussion on the fallout from the Trump administration.

The second part of the program was prompted by Norman B’s recent visit to KEXP radio in Seattle.“I was explaining to the station manager how in 1984, I had an earlier version of Life Elsewhere on KCMU (now KEXPradio. A teenage listener would call my show regularly, he’d say, “Can you play that Folk Devils record again? That young music fan went onto form his own band and a decade later he was a worldwide sensation, but tragically committed suicide soon after.”  The reference to the Nirvana frontman and one of his major influences had come up in an interview with musician Nick Clift, who has lovingly put together a tribute to his sadly departed friend and bandmate Ian Lowery, who fronted both Folk Devils and Ski Patrol. Influential and ignored is a fitting description for both UK bands. Clift believed the legacy of Lowery and his band Folk Devils deserved to be remembered and perhaps rediscovered. To that end, he has released a stellar compilation, Folk Devils: Beautiful Monsters (Singles & Demo Recordings 1984 – 1986)Nick Clift resurrected the Folk Devils recordings and tracked down the original tapes, which had spent 30 years languishing in the home of the band’s former manager. With expert help, he re-mastered the recordings to capture the ragged fury and adrenalized energy that uniquely characterized the Folk Devils. In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, you’ll hear tracks from the recent compilation and Norman B’s conversation with Nick Clift.

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  

Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on Internet Radio Network
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You can hear all the volumes of Life Elsewhere Music over at Mixcloud

Influential & Ignored

“It was Seattle circa 1984, I had an early version of Life Elsewhere on KCMU (now KEXP) radio. A teenage listener would call my show regularly, he’d say, “Can you play that Folk Devils record again? That young music fan went onto form his own band and a decade later he was a worldwide sensation, but sadly died soon after.” This is part of a story Norman B has not widely publicized before. He is in conversation with Nick Clift recalling the conundrum of discovering new music that was both influential and ignored. Clift, a one-time member of another overlooked band Ski Patrol, has lovingly curated a tribute to his friend and Folk Devils frontman Ian Lowery. The result is a stellar compilation, Folk Devils: Beautiful Monsters (Singles & Demo Recordings 1984 – 1986). Nick who was in Ski Patrol with Lowery, believes the legacy of the man and his band Folk Devils deserves to be remembered and perhaps rediscovered. Named after Stanley Cohen’s book on youth subcultures, Folk Devils and Moral Panics this highly underrated British band was as far as one could get from “folk music”. They were formed by Ian Lowery, (formerly of The Wall and Ski Patrol) in late 1983 with a line -up that consisted of Whiteley on bass, Kris Jozajtis on guitar and Alan Cole on drums. By early 1984, their heady brew of swampy rock on a bed of bastardized blues had created a vehicle for Lowery’s increasingly misanthropic worldview. A well-honed gutter poet since the early days of punk, Ian had developed an idiosyncratic style, fusing a natural gift for sly wordplay and a well-turned snarky phase with his often vitriolic and poignant lyrics channeled through an explosive onstage persona. Gigging constantly, yet by early 1986, frustration within their ranks had created a point of no return, and the band imploded. Ian’s artful and sparse tales of love, loss, loathing, and libation may well have been before their time. He died at the age of 45 in 2001. Nick Clift decided to resurrect the Folk Devils recordings and tracked down the original tapes, which had spent 30 years languishing in the home of the band’s former manager. With expert help, he re-mastered the recordings to capture the ragged fury and adrenalized energy that uniquely characterized the Folk Devils. In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, you’ll hear tracks from the soon to be released compilation and Norman B’s conversation with Nick Clift.

Life Elsewhere Show #184 airs:
Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  

Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network

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