Brigandage #1 (1982)
Michelle Brigandage – vocals,
Mick Fox – guitarist
Ben – drums
Scott – bass
Brigandage #2 (1984)
Michelle Brigandage – vocals, chainsaw guitar
Richard North – bass guitar, vocals
Glen – guitars
Des – drums, percussion
BRIGANDAGE Lead singer of this early 80’s gang of Punk plunderers was a 23 year old called Michelle. She had the dubious honour of being first in the queue of the infamous 100 Club Punk festival back in 1976, when she was just 16 years old! Brigandage started life in 1982 as ‘the next Sex Pistols’, and were thrown into the short lived ‘Positive Punk’ scene that her boyfriend Richard North a freelance writer/member of Blood And Roses, accidentally created in a New Musical Express piece in ’83. Positive Punk was the blur between hardcore punk and the new up and coming Goff scene. Meanwhile the band had only mediocre success around London in the early 80’s promising a lot but rarely gaining critical aclaim. They soon split up.
Michelle was also a member of that theatrical Punk school of Thespians the ‘Wet Paint Theatre Company’, which seen many a punkette from 80’s scene in their ranks. She also designed her own clothes. Brigandage made a second attempt in 1984 at the big time re-inventing themselves in a pseudo Velvet Underground style, but they were finally thrown into the brig for bad behaviour. Michelle left the music scene as the 80’s drew to a close and got married and aquired a BA Honors in English?
Recorded most of their output at Globe studios.They released their debut F.Y.M. (Furg Ya Mudder’) album on their own Fuck Off Records (cassette-only label). Their only vinyl release was the mini album ‘Pretty Funny Thing’ released in November 1986, which was largely funded by clinical research trials at Charterhouse Clinical Research Unit!..
Winston Smith meets Brigandage
TURN TO page thirty-four of Caroline Coon’s 1988 – The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion, and there you will find Michelle, singer with Brigandage, at the head of the queue for the 100 Club punk rock festival.
The excited smile on her face seems to say maybe, just maybe, history shall be made tonight…
“Life is too grey,” she explains a heady six-and-a-half years later,” and that’s why I think Rubella Ballet are good, because they go out in bright clothes and … they’re into bright things; they understand the importance of going out and being bright, hopeful and proud.”
Brigandage drummer, Ben: “To begin with, everybody was so optimistic anyway, the audience became the band as well, and for a while you couldn’t really tell the difference because everyone was so obscure. Nowadays everyone’s pessimistic, you’ve got to give them some optimism, and you can give it in lots of different ways.”
Optimism the Brigandage way comes in the form of a most exhilarating heroic urban guerilla rock ‘n’ roll; a blood-pumping, sharp but boldly raw musical savagery – just like the old days…
It’s funny, but a lot of young people are going to hear you and they won’t think of you as a punk band at all, but as a rock band.
Guitarist, Mick: “Why should they think that?”
Simply because of the way punk sounds nowadays.
Ben: “.. .And by comparing it to us, yeah. But it’s because of all these psuedo-Oi bands and things like that, they’ve re-defined it for themselves. All this stuff about punk being a working class culture, it’s classless!”
Mick: “They’re concentrating on looking violent rather than sounding good, which is stupid.”
It was around last August that Brigandage sprang suddenly, and apparently from nowhere (in fact they’d all been members of other bands, Michelle at one time even having her voice featured on a long-lost mystery single) into the limelight, and the slowly over-flowing punk arena.
Their first gig was a Nottingham appearance, followed two months later by a London date with the Sex Gang Children.
BUT BEFORE this, while still trying to form a band, Michelle and Ben had placed advertisements in the music press in their search for the ideal guitarist…
Michelle: “It took about a year to get Mick. We’d go up to people that looked reasonable at gigs, looked decent, like punks as we see .punks should be. ._. ”
Michelle: “I mean to us it’s really important, we didn’t want people with crops and boots, and we didn’t want the Oi brigade, and to us, we can tell … I mean you go up to people who look like they’re going to be alright, and of course they can turn out to be wankers, but we had to have some sort of basis to go around asking people. But we didn’t meet anyone, so in the end we put in an advert, and I think it was months before Mick came down, plugged in, and we thought, here’s the boy for us!”
With a majestic rock sound that’s, to put it bluntly, a blatantly but lovingly created composite of, amongst others, Banshee, Penetration, and most overwhelmingly. Pistols parts, aren’t Brigandage asking for trouble?
The name itself (Ben: “To me it’s got a certain amount of McLaren type attitude in it”), with wonderful defiance, says it all…
Brigandage: The art of stealing. To rob. To plunder…
What would these seditious, Seditionaries-togged bandits’ reply be to those brave enough to suggest that this is just regression, pure and simple?
Michelle: “Well, the thing is we’re not going back, I mean we don’t rip them off; Everyone says – Ho! Pistols rip-off! But it’s something that’s in your sub-conscious. If you listen to the Pistols every day for six or seven years then of course it’s in your spirit, I mean … We’re going back to when they had tunes, and maybe we can step forward from there.”
Mick: “There’s so many bands going around and they’ve read in the paper. Oh, punks can’t play, and they think, Aha, we can’t play – let’s form a band!
“Every group sounds the same these days; I mean if people like it it’s up to them,
but they haven’t got the choice any more, and we want to give them that choice.”
And not only that, but as these young outlaws are pillaging from bands, and a musical period, that was/were/is the finest of them all; and while they continue to build upon those classic sounds, improving on, and (very occasionally) even surpassing the old guard, then well, why the hell not?
Brigandage. I don’t care. even if maybe you are regressing, just a little bit.
Michelle: “Good. But Winston, it’s funny, we’ve noticed it depends what bands people like right? If people like the Pistols they say. Wow! You sound just like the Pistols! But we’ve played gigs, and people who like the Banshees have said – You really sound like the Banshees.”
Ben: “Obviously we’ll end up with our own sound, but we regard the Pistols as the punk band.”
Michelle: “We don’t care. I’m not ashamed to say it, to me they were only punk band.”
Mick: “… To get good results, if you delve deeply |- into any subject, you’ve got js to go back to the roots.”
HOW MUCH relationship then, do you see
yourselves having with the Punk Scene ’83?
Ben: “Well, in a sense we see ourselves not
necessarily outside the scene, but as an
alternative within it, and there don’t seem to be
that many alternatives at the moment, and
unfortunately you can seem to categorise the
scene fairly straightforwardly. ..”
Michelle: “Yeah, into little sections, like there’s
the Sex Gang brigade, and we’ve been lumped
in with all them, which is funny really, because,
I mean we don’t mind, it’s just that we’re not like
them at all, I mean they’re much more doom ‘n’
gloom, and we’re more rock ‘n’ roll; rot ‘n’ roll is
A versatile bunch. Brigandage’s talents aren’t
restricted to music, they also design their own
clothes. Mick’s opening a night-club, and
Michelle’s joined the Wet Paint Theatre
“See, the thing is,” she enthuses, “we see
Brigandage as … we can’t change, we’re not
into the musical revolution, we want people to
“It’s more than music. I mean musically, yeah,
we hope the tunes we come up with are going
to be uplifting, and also what we sing about, to
make people think.
“We can’t say – You’ve got to do this, or you’ve
got to do that; I mean Crass and bands like
them can sing about real solutions because
they’ve got more knowledge, they’re a lot older
for a start, I mean, we’re still learning…”
Ben: “We don’t necessarily offer a solution or
anything, we’re just telling people there is an
alternative to singing about nuclear war and
Michelle: “We don’t want to sing about the droll life, we want to sing about life as it could be; I mean if the bomb goes off it goes off, we all die, but if you’re going to die, then you might as well try the best you can ‘to make the life you live as meaningful and productive as is possible for you.”
Hmm. So what lies in store for Mick, Ben, Michelle and silent, tenuously ‘temporary’ bassist Scott? Any record deals lined up?
Mick: “Well, I don’t think we’re really big enough, our audience isn’t there to buy our records, and we’ve got to persuade them by being brilliant, we’ve got to have our audience there. .. ”
Micthelle: “… I’m 23 now, and when I was about 18 I used to be a real anarchist right? But when you look back there’s something wrong, people don’t care, and when you get to 23 you see nothing but betrayals behind you, and I don’t see much ahead of me either, whereas the younger people have still got a lot of idealism in them.
“I mean, half of me is really cynical, and says, like, let’s nuke the world, because they don’t deserve to live, I wake up thinking God, why do we bother to try? Sod ’em, they don’t care. And then the other half goes no, let’s try again.”
Ben: “See, basically, we want to also bring back some kind of spontaneity and excitement with the live experience, because speaking as individuals, we haven’t been to very many exciting gigs for a long time you see, and my main intention to start with is to hopefully make gigs more exciting, or our gigs more exciting anyway.”
GO ON, you’ve got another five seconds, say something outrageous.
“… You can’t change society, and you certainly can’t destroy it and start again, which was McLaren’s attitude; but our attitude is modified in that we can establish our own society within the current one, and steal from the main society for our own ends.”
Go on, again.
“… The late ’70’s, to me, was the first time since the ’60’s that people, and society in general, got worried about people below the age of twenty, and hopefully, that’s what we’re trying to do again.”
Don’t look over your shoulder. . .
SOUNDS FEBRUARY 19TH 1983