Saturday, 4 April 2020

Last Week's Trend is Now Passé (part 10): Eve of the Scream "Control" 12'' Ep, 1989

Like my mommy used to tell me whenever I could not stop stuffing meself with chocolate cookies, all good things come to an end. Now that I can be described, in the broadest sense possible, as a grownup, at least officially, I have come to understand the depth of such a saying, and although I allow myself to overeat at times, I am afraid that even the most incredible things in the world - like Last Week's Trend is Now Passé for example, off the top of my head - do have to end eventually. And so this is the last part of this series that has focused on works pertaining to the second wave of British anarchopunk, all recorded during the second part of the 80's. By no means was it the first time I addressed this topic and, being of an obsessive nature, it won't probably be the last either (but I shall reasonably wait until the next pandemics, the dreadful Covid 20, also known as the Walrus Flu, hit the world in 2022 to get back to it). But before I leave you to your torpor and the streaming of irksome lockdown videos showing middle-class families tunelessly singing together in their spacious living room, your day shall be vastly improved by this write-up about a band you have probably never ever heard about: Eve of the Scream.

An unknown band? For real? In 2020? I know how it sounds. Disconcerting to say the least. And I know what you are thinking. Lost marbles and all that. You are probably blaming such a dubious statement on my pathological tendency to hyperbolise, one that can be verified pretty much in every articles I ever wrote for Terminal Sound Nuisance. And you would be wrong. I did take my medication and I truthfully believe that you, my faithful readers, are not acquainted with Eve of the Scream and, for once, I am not going to sneer at your ignorance and condescend to lecture you about your inadmissible shortcomings. In fact, it pains me to confess, until a relatively recent time, I was myself completely and sinfully oblivious to the existence of EOTS and consequently I shall be repenting by reciting three "Punk is dead" and five "Persons unknown" every night until I fucking die. 

I doubt you really want the whole story but you are still going to have it. In late 2015, I traveled to Brittany to attend a mate's party for New Year's Eve. The day before the customary midnight trades of germs, I was staying at another friend's, who is, to put it mildly, "an older punk". And I enjoy hanging out with older punks. Really, I do. They always have fascinating tales of insane punk gigs of yore to tell, or captivating anecdotes about old-school tours going seriously wrong, or gossip about how the singer of a legendary hardcore band is actually expert at behaving like a spoiled wanker. And of course, they often own old records and demo tapes and fanzines that you may never have heard about. So anyway, I was at this friend's place and we were chatting pleasantly, talking about recent bands we were into, this kind of things. Of course he is well aware that I claim to be a bit of an authority as far as vintage anarchopunk and crust go, a bit like a pundit, except I'm slightly better at discussing the validity of Discharge clones instead of Manchester United's shit transfer policy. So he innocently asks if I am familiar an 80's anarchopunk band called Eve of the Scream (with a French accent, as you can imagine). I replied that I did not, so he started fumbling around his record shelves and took out what looked like an Lp. Before the first chords arrived to my delicate ears, I honestly thought that I had either misheard the band's name or that he had mispronounced it. So when I realized that, not only was the band actually called Eve of the Scream, but that it was, indeed, a vintage anarcho act from the UK that was unbeknownst to me, I fell off my pedestal, instantly got off my high horse and started to get very excited about that mysterious band that had all the attributes of a personal favourite. It was a truly humbling experience, one that reminded me of why I enjoyed the company of knowledgeable old punks so much, as there are always things you can learn from their experience and stories. So thanks a lot for that. 

Once back at home, I immediately formed a research team capable to gather as much intelligence as possible about EOTS, the band that had inexplicably escaped me. Predictably, they only had the one record, the 12'' Ep Control from 1989, and I have not been able to find much about them, although a former EOTS member did create a soundcloud page 10 years ago that included the two recordings of the band (the aforementioned Control 12'' and a demo tape entitled Unbelievable Genocide) as well as some biographical elements. EOTS were from the Merseyside area, very close to Liverpool, and must have formed in the mid-80's. Mentions are made of a previous lineup to Unbelievable Genocide, but another earlier demo recording seems unlikely, and I have a feeling that EOTS may have been run like a collective and were possibly close to the free festivals scene, and I am not just saying that because they have a ska moment. Ippy (called Sherry on the cover), who is responsible for the backing vocals was apparently involved in the Greenham Women's Peace Camp movement and main singer Martin - who was still at school - used to play in Happy to be Sad (whatever that band might be!). After some skillful digs on a punk archaeological site, I was able to confirm that the Unbelievable Genocide tape (that is not even referenced on discogs) was originally released on Bluurg Tapes (at number 77), possibly in 1988. Unfortunately, the version of the demo uploaded onto the soundcloud page is apparently incomplete so that only six tracks are included. Although, this recording is not as crisp as Control, it nevertheless indicates what EOTS were trying to do in term of style. The band's music hints at that "free punk" sound that a significant number of anarchopunk bands in the mid/late 80's embraced, bands like Culture Shock, Freak Electric, Hippy Slags, Smartpils, Karma Sutra, basically bands that did not take the metal path and endeavoured to free punk-rock from its stylistic chains (and inspired by earlier non-conformist 80's punk bands) through the infusion of psychedelic rock, dub music, indie pop, ska, prog rock... The results of such miscegenation did not always demonstrate impeccable aesthetic judgements but it was a perfectly logical evolution from anarchopunk, just as valid as the contemporary crust wave. I am not saying that EOTS is an anarcho-dub collective, however I do get that "free" vibe from their catchy and danceable chorus-driven punk-rock with percussions. Three songs from Unbelievable Genocide were included on an anti-vivisection tape compilation entitled No Justification released in 1989 on a French label called Acts of Defiance - responsible for a couple of other such tapes from 1986 to 1992 (says discogs) - that also included Media Children and Γκούλαγκ, two bands who have already been invited to Terminal Sound Nuisance (No Justification also has songs from Brotherhood but, to be honest, they are unlikely to ever land here).

There are five songs on Control, recorded between 1988 and 1989. In fact, I am quite sure the last song "It's your choice", which was performed by a different lineup as stated on the backcover, previously appeared on the demo tape so that it is basically a four-song 12'' Ep with one extra track. EOTS did all their sessions at a local studio, called the Station House, with the help of one Paul Madden who notably worked on We Are Going to Eat You's Everywen the same year. Frustratingly, my copy of the record is bereft of any booklet or insert, which are very helpful in situating a band inside the punk cosmos with accuracy. But I am reputedly famous - and usually celebrated - to never run out of zeal when it comes to formulate wild guesses about unrenowned bands so I'll have a go by myself (and I have got the soundcloud page saved somewhere). Apparently, EOTS shared the stage with bands such as Rubella Ballet, City Indians, Culture Shock, Radical Dance Fatcion or Thatcher On Acid, and if you were to blend all these bands together, the resulting smoothie would taste something like EOTS. Control is a multifaceted anarchopunk record, fueled by clever and versatile songwriting skills and led by an outstanding performance and a strong presence of frontman Martin who really sings his heart out. In terms of musicianship, EOTS were nothing extraordinary - and admittedly having two drummers was probably a little ambitious for the demo session - although they are all pretty sound at what they do and the playing is not sloppy at all. But what really set Control apart lie in the dynamics of the songwriting, its youthful and uplifting energy. Control sounds like a fresh call to action, not because it is a unique punk masterpiece, but for the sense of urgency and optimism it manages to convey. The five songs are very well thought-out. For instance the song "Control" contains four different movements, after a soft tuneful introduction, you get a direct and snotty punk-rock entrée, before jumping to a full on ska interlude, and then to a dark postpunk break and finally to a poppy Chumba moment concluded by some epic guitar-driven punk-rock. Thanks to the sheer positive energy permeating the songwriting, "Control" never sounds disparate or clumsy, on the contrary it sounds like a proper story, greatly told from an angry teenage perspective, and the four other songs are just as convincing and memorable. EOTS were incredibly and, one feels, effortlessly catchy and tuneful too. The passionate dual male/female chorus will stick with you for days ("Dare to dream" is absolute gold) and the songs have that inherent danceable quality that can be found those early 90's anarcho bands like AOS3, Citizen Fish or Scum of Toytown, though EOTS are definitely more punk-rock-oriented. However, positing that this modest Liverpool band can be seen as an aesthetic bridge between the mid/late 80's free anarchopunk sound and the 90's anarcho-dub-punk is not irrelevant. But what do they really sound like, I figuratively hear you ask? Well, I suppose that they would feel comfortable with versatile psych punk bands like Culture Shock, Karma Sutra or Smartpils, but they also have that driving, lively, tuneful punk-rock element to them that can be found in bands like Hagar the Womb, Indian Dream or Naked, and of course they are especially close to the early '82/'84 Conflict sound either, especially in the way they are able to vary the tempos while still expressing a mood of anger.

The lyrics to the songs are not included and it's a real shame. From what I can gather, traditional anarchopunk topics like animal abuse, genocidal Western policies and manmade pollution are tackled. You can spot a dream catcher on the cover, which may be a little awkward retrospectively, and associated with the epigraph "Love, peace and positive change", it does conjure up images of long-haired punks traveling in a muddy van. As for the name Eve of the Scream, I wish I had a witty interpretation to offer but I don't.

Old punx rule, ok?  

Dare to dream


  1. Hi Nice one I played guitar in the band

    1. Alright, the record is very enjoyable but very difficult to find actually. I was lucky enough to find a copy. Did the members of EOTS play in other bands after or before?

  2. Easier to answer by email

  3. Nice one Beno! Lovely memory of carefree times! Little did we know! hope you are keeping well ,
    matey and prob catch you at Pete Pulford's wake, maybe? xx