Our intrepid arts writer Petra Gent discovers the South London Punk Collective – a group of local musicians bringing live punk music back to our capital using the power of social media.
The South London Punk Collective (SLPC) is the brainchild of John Youens and it aspires to bring together like-minded musicians who have a passion for live performance. John plays with the South London punk outfit Slow Factions and he described to me how his frustrations as a performer inspired him to set up the Facebook group South London DIY Punk Gigs.
I met with John and two other members of the collective, Mark Geraghty who plays with Morgellons and Fleagle of Stone Heroes, at the Hand in Hand pub where they talked about the journey of the SLPC so far.
John spoke about how difficult it can be as a performer turning up at poorly promoted gigs where a lack of organisation and difficulty with technical support can make the process of staging live events increasingly demoralising. John initially put out a call on Facebook to fellow punk performers with a request to join forces in setting up genre specific gigs in local, supportive venues. He was really encouraged with the response he received from both venues and musicians to jump on board.
The idea is borne from the roots of punk music being of a very DIY nature. “The aim is to organise our own genre-specific gigs with all bands supporting each other,” says John. “To offer, where possible, free entry shows and the opportunity for bands, young and old, established and newcomers, to come together and play fun, satisfying, well-attended gigs.”
In just a few short months the success of the collective is clear. With at least 40 bands involved and three venues offering their premises as regular hosts, including The Scream Lounge in Croydon, The Hand in Hand in Brixton, and more recently The Cavendish in Stockwell. John has also recently been approached by the South London Punk Picnic to take part in their gathering at Brockwell Park in May.
As well as the Punk Picnic John talked with great excitement about a charity event that he has been organising. This will take place at The New Cross Inn on July 11th . Chelsea are headlining and bands are playing from 2.00pm. All proceeds will be split 50-50 between Mat Sargent’s Sex, Drugs & HIV project and the Wat Prabat Nampu Temple and Aids Hospice in Lopburi, Thailand. Head to Facebook to find out more.
The two main messages that came across as John talked about the collective were firstly that the more a band put in, the more they would get out of it. The concept is that the musicians involved will help to spread the word about gigs, bring audiences along to performances, support other bands as they played, share equipment, ideas and feedback.
The other point that all three emphasised was the importance of breathing fresh life into the live music scene. In John’s words “Keep music live!’
The SLPC continues to welcome like-minded bands to sign up and get involved, and John even talked about broadening the geographical perimeters of the collective.
The next SLPC event in Brixton is free and at the Hand in Hand on Sunday 24th May, which coincides with the South London Punk Picnic in Brockwell Park on the same day. Various SLPC member bands will also be playing at an all day festival at the New Cross Inn on 11th July in support of HIV/Aids sufferers.