Spizz 77
6000 crazziii
Spizz 77

Spizz 77 was the very 1st incarnation of Spizz – Spizz Oil, Spizzenergi, Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzles & Spizzenergi 2 would follow - as sure as night follows day. “6,000 Crazy”, “Cold City”, “Soldier Soldier”, “Where’s Captain Kirk” – regardless of the moniker – the hits continued to stick.

Spizz & Pete Petrol practically invented the two-member group with Spizz 77/Spizz Oil. Arguably so far ahead of their time they probably met themselves coming back on the way there (Jack White has the words Spizz 77 tattooed on his left big toe, fact fans, whilst Meg simply won’t leave the woodshed without her Spizz Oil big-pants on!!).

“6,000 Crazy” was not only the debut Spizz Oil 45 – it was also RTS 01 – the very first release on Rough Trade Records. Spizz Oil not only founded the institution – they set the agenda too.

Jean Encoule bumped into Spizz totally by accident just the other week. This is what he had to say:

trakMARX - When & how did Spizz first discover Punk?

Spizz: I was a compulsive buyer of all music weeklies from 1973 onwards. NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Record Mirror and Disc. So as soon as Carolyn Coon’s Melody Maker article appeared I was a member.

trakMARX - What made you want to get involved?

Spizz: The energy and the de-mystification of the music business, the creative attitude and, as an art student, the D.I.Y. clothes etc.

trakMARX - Tell us a bit about Spizz 77.

Spizz: Well, I had painted a news boy’s delivery paper bag, an old canvass one, with my school nickname, adding 77: "SPIZZ'77" – ‘cos that was the year. That year was also my last year at Solihull College where future Swell Maps musos and others organised a 24-hour charity music sound-athon where sound had to be continuous and so inevitably anyone could pick up an instrument and make a noise.

trakMARX - How did you get involved with Geoff Travis & Rough Trade?

Spizz: They heard the John Peel session and presumably because we appeared to support Siouxsie everywhere at sometime or another - Geoff or someone must have seen our breathtakingly refreshing brand of "punk skiffle" - as Paul Morley called it - and we had a record out within 8 months of performing. I designed the sleeve and out it came, there wasn't even a contract. One reviewer blamed Brian Eno for our existence - which I thought was great.

trakMARX - When you released "6000 Crazy" as RTS01 did you have any idea that Rough Trade would become such a venerated British institution?

Spizz: Well, we thought it would go top ten. So we all would have benefited.

trakMARX - What do you make of Rough Trade's recent output?

Spizz: I loved The Libertines. However, on another point, I was disappointed not to be invited to perform at the 20th anniversary gigs a few of years back – then to discover we were not even mentioned on their web site as part of their history. It's like we disappeared. This from their CURRENT History page:

"In the next couple of years Rough Trade expanded into a Distributor and a Record Company, distributing early Factory releases and releasing records by The Swell Maps, Raincoats & Stiff Little Fingers amongst others. By 1982 the rapid expansion combined with what may be most generously described as lax business control led to cash flow and other financial problems."

trakMARX - Any idea why Spizz Oil was one of the only groups the Banshees actually liked?

Spizz: I could say it was our spirit and stuff but I think it was because we were funny and cheap!

trakMARX - Do you recall the throwing up incidents from the Banshees tour?

Spizz: One incident at the end of The Scream tour where everyone was doing their best to consume as much of everything as was possible. My mate Mick Kerr in an attempt to sober up ate a bag of chips. Not much time passed when he managed to fill my hotel bath with its swift return. Then he proceeded to wash it down the plug-hole forcing the bigger lumps with his fingers down the plug hole – nice!

trakMARX - Whatever happened to Pete Petrol?

Spizz: He moved to New Zealand in the early 90's. On one of his occasional returns in July 2004 we did a live SPIZZOIL session on Resonance 104.4 FM and squeezed in a couple of SPIZZOIL gigs one at the 12 Bar club in Denmark St. and one at Filthy McNasties.

trakMARX - Energi followed Oil - what was the 'hit experience' like for you?

Spizz: It was before Fleet Street discovered Wham! and pop music in general, also before the rise of pop videos on MTV, so the media coverage wasn't great. The music weeklies were the only thing really - and they were in decline.

trakMARX - What do you make of reinvented dance guru Lol Hammond now?

Spizz: Lol was working with me on some promising material and we played a couple of gigs together. Then he just disappeared. He was always a bit flakey with the attention span of a goldfish. Good luck to him - maybe I had too much hair (you never see him without a hat).

trakMARX - Had Lu Edmonds fully recovered from The Damned by the time he joined Athletico Spizz 80?

Spizz: I don't know, I'm not a doctor, I have nothing to compare. We met at a punk do at the 100 club a couple of years ago and he was very affable. He is very skilled guitarist.

trakMARX - Why did you change the group's name so often?

Spizz: Frank Sidebottom told me to answer this question with "my mum told me to". Originally it was to signal a different line up from as Spizz77 I had performed a handful of gigs solo and felt the name had a limited shelf life. Following the SPIZZOIL split I formed a new band without Petrol and hence changed the name. The band had been through 7 guitarists and 3 drummers by the time Capt. Kirk came out, so it seemed logical to approach a new decade with a new name. Also people were asking what the new name would be - it felt mean to disappoint them. Plus we did not approve of Thatcher and Reagan's spoiling boycott of the 1980 Olympic games and it was our small way of supporting the UK athletes who decided to go.

trakMARX - In retrospect, what was your favourite incarnation of Spizz?

Spizz: Design wise SPIZZOIL for the symmetry and SPIZZENERGI because it really reflected what I and the band were all about.

trakMARX - What does Spizz get up to these days?

Spizz: April 17th at the 100 club is the 6th gig in 8 months which is 6 more than the previous 3 years. My newest member of my family is 3 years 4 months old so you can see why there was a break because... I am the homemaker or house husband as my royalties do not cover the rent so the missus does the day job. I have been making some attempts at getting into broadcasting with my mate Paul Hallam. We are regrouping at the moment - new strategy and all that.

trakMARX - What do you listen to, read, watch?
Spizz: Over the years I have been drawn into various obsessions via TV and Film. From Star Trek to Mad Max 1&2, Bladerunner, Tron, Alien, Robocop and of course the Matrix (in 2002 my son was one of only 17 children worldwide to be named Neo!)

trakMARX - Where's the best place for fans to keep up with Spizz action?


trakMARX - And finally, & this one's from Needsy, tell us a few tales about your local - Filthy McNastys in Clerkenwell.

Spizz: It's the best! I have, in 25 years of living in central London, drank in a guzzillion bars and pubs. Filthy's is tops today. Marshall's, a little wine bar in the mid 80's, was fantastic - near Royal Oak tube – also, during the same period, great nights were had at the Frog 'n' Firkin, near Westbourne Park. In Soho, The Crown & 2 Chairman in the late 80's, until it was refurbished. For a short while The Punch Bowl, Mayfair, in the early 90's.

Jean Encoule – tMx 19 – 03/05

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