Monday, August 07, 2006

KBD (Killed By Das Schnitz)

Reading about obscure early punk bands who made one small run 7’’ before fading into obscurity is often a lot more fun than actually hearing the music itself. Occasionally though the music lives up to the collectors hype. Case in point being the 4 a.m 7’’ by Das Schnitz.

From Torquay, the bands one and only single from 1979 is a classic of it’s kind. It reminds me a lot of early Generation X/Jam and is a great punk rock blast. I like it so much that I was going to post this way back when I set this blog up. Since then though the good people at kbdrecords have beaten me to the punch but it’s the music that matters so thanks to them, here it is:

Das Schnitz-4 a.m 7’’

I wrote the following article on the band for Punk77. It hasn’t been published yet so here it is in all it’s glory...

While compiling the Year Zero Exeter punk CD for Hometown Atrocities, I was introduced to a band that had been due to play the Exeter Rougemont festival in the late seventies but had split up when a band member failed to show for the gig. The band in question was Torquay's Das Schnitz and their legacy was one sole 1979 three track single that the band financed themselves while still at school. The single is a great mix of early Jam and Clash which still sounds fresh today. With thanks to band members Nadi Jahangiri and original bassist Stu Gordon, here is the bands story...

Das Schnitz:
Tim Dodge - vocals/guitar, Nadi Jahangiri- guitar/vocals, Kevin Perry -
Drums, Tony Morrell - bass. Original bassist: Stewart Gordon.

Das Schnitz formed in Torquay, Devon in April 1978 and became part of a small local punk scene that included the likes of Critical Press, Systum and Glass Points.

All of the members were sixth form pupils at Torquay Grammar School and were aged 16 - 17. The bands first gig was infront of hundreds of screaming girls at Torquay Girls Grammar School. The bands major influences were The Clash and The Jam and during the bands short life span they played support shows in Torquay to The Vibrators, The Lurkers and London.

The band financed their own 7``, originally approaching Raw Records to release it. When that deal didn't work out they instead approached Ellie Jay Records with the single being released mid 1979. The band paid for both the recording and pressing of the single, finding enough money to finance a pressing of 500 singles although not the production of a picture sleeve. Instead, the band purchased a number of cheap second hand singles from a record stall in Torquay Market and customized the sleeves. The sleeves included the band name and a personalised message or slogan written over existing record sleeves by artists such as David Soul and Tavares, making each sleeve unique. Soon after the singles release, Torquay's local newspaper The Herald Express printed a story stating that a major record label were looking at the possibility of taking legal action against the band for infringing the labels copyright by customising one of their artists sleeves. A quote was printed in the article from Raw Records Lee Woods despite Raw having no connection with the singles release. The majority of the singles came in one of these picture sleeves although a few copies came out without the sleeve.

Das Schnitz finally split up in September 1979 after bass played Tony Morrell failed to show up for an appearance at Exeter's annual Rougemont outdoor festival. Tim Dodge, Kevin Perry and the bands original bass player Stewart Gordon went on to form the mod revival influenced Rhythm On 2, recording one studio session which was never released before splitting up.
The three songs recorded by Das Schnitz for their 7`` were the bands only studio recordings.

Original bassist Stewart Gordon writes more on the band…

During the Summer of 1977 punk was at it's height and most of the original members of Das Schnitz had been involved in bands in some capacity even before the punk explosion. However with the arrival of the new scene it became apparent that our limited talent needn't be the handicap that we had at first thought.

Pretty soon all the musical purists had disassociated themselves with the movement but the hardcore remained. The nucleus of what was to become Das Schnitz was in place; Kevin Perry/drums, Nadi Jahangiri/guitar and vocals and Stu Gordon/bass. The band needed a singer so school friend Tim Dodge joined the crew.

Rehearsals weren't going anywhere and we needed something to give us a kick up the arse! We only had a couple of cover songs and one of our own, so to move things along we arranged a gig at the Torquay Girls Grammar School lunchtime charity Disco. We weren't going to fill the twenty minute slot with the songs we had so I started writing stuff and within four weeks we had four new songs; "Frozen zone", "Young Socialist", "Reflections" and the set opener
”You Used To Be My Girlfriend". That particular song makes me cringe now when I think of the daft schoolboy lyrics. We padded the set out with a cover of "Pretty Vacant".

The debut performance went well, we played to about three hundred girls some even screamed, probably to get out ! Pretty much a dream start! After that we gigged around Torquay, Paignton, Brixham and Newton Abbot areas, mainly at youth clubs like Dyrons in Newton Abbot, a Teddy Boy/ Biker stronghold, quite hostile an invironment at times but with a handful of travelling fans/mates and some local punks it went OK. My most memorable gigs were supporting The Vibrators at Torquay Town Hall which was great and also supporting the band Tonight, (who had a hit called "The Drummer Man") at Seale Hayne College. That gig was not so great, the audience of agricultural students didn't really appreciate a support band that interfered with their drinking, and the gig was memorable for our unsolicited encore, an accapella version of the "Orbit Sugar Free Gum" commercial. Not long after that I left Das Schnitz as I thought some of the original energy was missing and I think the rest of the lads were heading in a slightly different direction. My replacement was Tony Morrell, a really nice bloke. He slotted straight in and almost instantly the Das Schnitz sound changed. It would I think at the time have been described as "powerpop". Soon they cut the single and continued until departures for college/university forced them to call it a day.

Typical set list for Das Schnitz circa May 1978:
1. You used to be my girlfriend (Stu Gordon/Das Schnitz)
2 .Cheat (The Clash)
3. Reflections (Stu Gordon/Das Schnitz)
4. Young Socialist (Stu Gordon/Das Schnitz)
5. Frozen Zone (Stu Gordon/Das Schnitz)
6. You Really Got Me (The Kinks)
7. Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols)
8. Divided Community (Stu Gordon//Das Schnitz)
9. No Time (London)

(If anyone out their want to reprint any of this article feel free but please credit the author /source and let me know-thanks!)

Find more shit on the Schnitz here and here.

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