Red Lion 24.07.17: Accidente, Atterkop and Spanner!

Join us for a night of the right sort of noise with Accidente from Madrid and Atterkop from round ere. Yes, it’s Monday. It doesn’t matter! You need to come see Accidente! They are one helluva band and they mean it! And you know it’s always riproaring with Atterkop!

https://www.facebook.com/events/263983600733148

It’s also International Antifascist Prisoner Solidarity day (well the day before, but let’s get in early!), so Bristol antifascists have a stall at the gig and are organising letter writing and card signing for imprisoned comrades. Let them know they are not forgotten…

Check out these sites for more info:

July 25, 2017 – Third Annual International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners

https://intlantifadefence.wordpress.com

 

ADM festival this weekend!!!

We just can’t wait for this! The ADM in Amsterdam is an incredible example of DIY anarchist squat culture at it’s best. We’re so proud to play at their 19th birthday. There is going to be much dancing and merry making!

https://adm.amsterdam/event/adms-19th-birthday-festival

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Italy tour report – July 2016

The road to Italy was long and arduous, with an ill fated breakdown on day one on the way to the ferry! Still the unstoppable crew continued, converging in Turin to get the gigs started.

Wednesday 6th July:
A bit of a Spanner lie in today. While others relaxed at the brilliant El Paso, meeting friends old and new, Goz and Richy headed out on bikes to get to know Torino and it’s sorbets and vegan ice cream options. Vegan thigh power resulted in a broken bike chain and a bit of a long walk home! Meanwhile there was some cultural lessons being learnt back at El Paso by team Spanner who showed some inappropriate lunching technique. Apparently you’re not supposed to pile everything on your plate and trough it, as the done thing is moving from one dish to the next, savouring all the different flavours individually. We were very pleased to meet our tour maestro, who was straight into the kitchen with some of the El Paso crew, preparing a corker of a Mexican dinner. Wendy the pig caused quite a stir and the place was buzzing as the gig was set up in the big front courtyard. But the wrong sort of buzzing signalled the start of a collective savaging by the local mosquito population. Eve got the worst of it and spent the rest of tour looking a bit like Cheetara of Thunder Cats – sort of. Mosquito attack was to become a bit of a theme of the tour. But so was getting very well fed! While we were being eaten alive we contented ourselves with eating the Mexican feast on offer. Reports are that 5 of the spicy pasties was the top score! A few of our crew slipped away for a bit of Wales vs Portugal until concerns over failing light and solo abilities propelled us stageward. The gig contained no epic fails and went down well –  a really nice start to the tour. Big thanks to the unstoppable El Paso crew for putting on an extra gig for us (July is usually a well deserved break for them), to Sandro, the silver fox, for working his magic with the sound and to the Spanner distro / dancefloor mob. Avanti compagni/e!

Thursday 7th July:
During a top brunch on the terrazza we learnt a bit about the state of the movement and the heavy repression currently being faced by comrades involved in the No Tav anti high speed train movement. This impressive example of a genuine mass movement is an inspiration. They’ve been fighting this capitalist mega project for over 25 years, struggling hard against the state’s heavy hand and war of attrition. There are lots of stories and a very proud history of solid community resistance. Recently two comrades were arrested for participation in a demo last September and forced to live under house arrest while awaiting trial. Other comrades were bailed to move out of Torino where they live. They refused and the two comrades are now in prison. We were all agreed to go to a solidarity demo for them the next day.
In the afternoon we headed out towards our next gig in Avigliana where the mountains begin. En route we had a stop at a huge lake where our brits abroad mozzy bites got a bit of an airing and we cooled down with a lush swim. Then it was on to “Vis Rabbia”, a squatted venue in part of an old dynamite factory. Nice! At the entrance is a big, striking mural of a line of partisans silhouetted against a dawn sky, walking towards the dynamite factory. The accompanying words read: “We have a long history, which we will honour”. In 1944 the partisans raided and took control of the dynamite factory from the fascists.

Vis RabbiaThis time round the squatters have held it for 5 years, providing a gig and events space for the local community as well as hosting a regular market for locally grown fruit, veg and other produce. They are part of the grassroots “Genuino alternativo” movement of local small scale producers who refuse to pay exorbitant fees for selling their wares, putting them at a massive disadvantage against huge agribusiness. Pati, a long time activist and apparent walking dynamo of the place explained the name “Vis Rabbia” to us. It means strength and rage and is also the name of a local plant that is everywhere and refuses to die! A bit like the squatter’s movement, then!
As we prepared our gear in the amphitheatre like gig patio we were surrounded by bats, fireflies, inquisitive goats and basslines provided by Asian Dub Foundation to test out the PA. After a proper nosh up of seemingly endless dishes of home grown food washed down with home made wine and beer, we took to the stage. One of our top comrades from the casa antirepresione said some things that needed saying about the state, prisons and the need to resist (well, that’s what we understood) and after nods and raised fists we let rip with our contribution to the night! Afterwards the Spanner dancehall commando got involved with some wine fuelled dancing as Spanner DJs racked up the tunes! Then it was back to Torino, Ben doing his best to avoid sleep driving, to El Paso and deep sleep!

Friday 8th July:

Not enough sleep as we dragged ourselves up and out for the solidarity with the two No Tav prisoners. Some of us were a bit worse for wear after the night before but we made the train on time against all odds. En route we realised none of us had our passports, which was quickly identified as a bit of an issue by our tour /  demo guide extraordinario. Apparently the cops take a keen interest in anyone they haven’t seem before at demos and hassle is likely. No ID papers means a trip to the cop shop so they can establish who you are. Whoops! As we arrived we saw the much hated DIGOS (special branch equivalent) on the court balcony, taking photos and filming everyone. It’s a shame how some people waste their lives! What’s more depressing is the number of lives the police take every year around the world. While on the demo we heard about the police murders of Aston Sterling and Philando Castile in the U.S. and the retaliatory killing of cops in Dallas. Surely it’s no surprise when sometimes people fight back.
We decided to keep a bit of distance until numbers on the demo grew but there’s only so long you can stay on the fringes trying to look inconspicuous like good little tourists. Before long we felt the demo was big enough to be a bit safer to join, with around 50 comrades on the street. Cue a lot of attention from the bad guys who seemed desperate to be in on who knows who. They’re as bad as the Forward Intelligence Team back home for creepy stalker style behaviour. A lot of what they do is clearly designed to intimidate people off the streets but the No TAV comrades are having none of it. After a round of focaccia bread it started to heat up and numbers began to dwindle, so we decided to make an exit, managing to slip away without any ID check hassle from the cops.
Local knowledge informed us of a good Chinese restaurant which answered the questions about lunch and then it was back to El Paso and off to our next gig. The drive to Monza, near Milan, was hot and sweaty in the extreme and a hellish Milan rush hour experience didn’t help at all. It all got better when we arrived at the amazing FOA Bocaccio squatted social centre. A huge mural of two partisan fighters from the area greets visitors and they named their football pitch after one of them who was killed fighting fascism.

BocaccioAs we arrived there was plenty of action on the pitch, with two teams going for it. We strategically waited til they were tired out to ask for a game in order to stand any chance! Team Spanner sprang into action and had a fun game, despite relentless swarms of flies and a beating sun, surprising ourselves and everyone with a 2-1 win! When one of the guys, fresh off the pitch and 2 hours of fast football, started some incredible break dancing moves, we knew what had to happen next. There were laughs all round at an aging Spanner member’s caterpillar dancefloor entrance and comedy attempts to get down with the kids! Much more impressive was a large group of migrants using the space for a meeting with no borders activists. Apparently a lot of good solidarity work goes on here with migrants self organising and the squatters giving practical, active solidarity. The squat also provides a library, screenprinting workshop, a cafe and a people’s gym amongst other things. As in El Paso, their history is all over the walls, with hundreds of posters for events, demos, gigs etc and lots of murals, banners and graff. One of the comrades explained that they have had to move 10 times in 14 years. Well they’re certainly not showing any signs of getting tired of it!
A film showing and talk about French rebel and prison breaker Charlie Bauer, hosted by the casa antirepresione, was well attended and generated much interest and discussion. The antirepression group is extremely hard working, tirelessly putting on discussions, film nights and events as well as being right in the thick of a lot of other active solidarity organising. We were very proud to be touring alongside them.
Stonking pizzas were on the menu for dinner, made in a big bread oven on the patio by the football pitch. They were swiftly demolished. We were on the menu for the mozzies again and gained an understanding of the saying, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” After dinner it was gig time and Goz had the apparently great idea of conga-ing onto stage to get people involved and up for it. Well, we had a go anyway. Except Goz, who had clearly had second thoughts and was stood where we started looking highly amused at our antics! People did quickly get in the swing of the gig though and some dancefloor champions were identified. Ben had a couple of empty mind moments and there were suggestions for a cover of Paul Hardcastle’s “19”, i.e. “Didn’t really know what was going on…”. The gig was a goodun though and we finished up looking forward to the next night; the big finale in the mountains!

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Saturday 9th July:

A photo with the partisans started us off on our way to the mountains. This was the day we’d been waiting for and after another scorcher drive (and a total, against all odds result finding vegan choc ices in the local supermarket!) we arrived at the beautiful “La Barbaria” social centre in the mountain village of Mentoulles, where we finished up 2 years ago on our first tour. It was so good to see old friends again.

terrace kidsWe knew this was going to be a good one, surrounded by the jaw dropping beauty of the mountains and the welcome provided by great people and comrades. They’re not workshy this lot and it was clear how much effort had been collectively put in to make this an absolute corker of a gig in a field in the mountains. It was a benefit for the antirepression group as well. A lot of boxes ticked here!

mountains The sound crew, the cafe crew, the bar crew were all a force of nature, “pezzi di pane”, as they say round here. So it was all you can eat waffles, sandwiches and pasta and lots of drinks. As usual, they wouldn’t have any talk of us paying for our food and drink! Ben had a dunk in the ice cold river, avoided getting washed away but then had a mishap with some red ants in the pants and some very painful bites! There was football skills on show from Goz and Nick as we waited excitedly for the bands to begin.

neruAll the bands were great and we had a good stomp to a few of them, not least the Dirty Artichokes, a punk folk outfit from the neighbouring valley! It was so good to see so many fun loving rebels going for it and to meet some local bands and hear their noise! As night fell we were treated to a spectacular light show by fireflies illuminating the surrounding forest. Then it was our time to shine and we had an absolutely frantic gig, possibly our best ever, as good comrades went mental in Mentoulles!

gigAs we said from the stage “Cuesto movimento non si arresta!” – this movement is unstoppable! Goz had to fend off an overly eager bass interferer, Nick expertly and very casually caught the bass head as it fell off the stack but hit his floor tom so hard it fell over. Needless to say the sound crew were right on it. Eve and Richy whipped the crowd up and Ben got on top of it for a bit of air guitar crowd surfing. Alex joined in the relentless mob crowd surfing and Sam and Carolyn represented in the uproarious dance. We saw some exemplary crowd surfing and some proper tumbles that looked very dangerous! A favourite plectrum was lost in the process, but that’s a fair swap for so many good memories! We got such a buzz from seeing so many good comrades with faces alive, dancing so wildly and having a blast.

ranterThere was a whole lot of love between us and the crowd. We were very proud to play for such a great bunch of solid, passionate and committed people and to support their struggles in our small way. What an amazing finish to a cracking tour. The party continued all night and into the next morning with a bit of Black Eyed Peas thrown in for good measure as the sun came up. Euphoric! We will be back for sure! Huge thanks to all the crews who helped us out and hosted gigs: Alpi liberi, La casa antirepresione, El Paso, Vis Rabbia, FOA Bocaccio, Barbaria, NO TAV, all the bands and everyone else who came to the gigs. Spacciamo! Avanti compagni / e!!! A la prossima…

nick

Riot Ska gig report

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“Let’s lynch the landlord!” – The Dead Kennedy’s

Another top gig organised by the unstoppable Riot Ska Records crew last Friday night. Shame about the landlord and the cop thugs!

Here’s our report on what went on:

The pub was rammed with loads of good people and the atmosphere was wicked. Helldeath fury – awesome. Bolshy – Bangin! We loved playing the gig and were thinking what a good new venue had been found for punk and alternative gigs. But then things changed really quickly for the worse. News started coming through that the landlord was pestering people about drinking outside, attempting to search bags and getting right up in people’s faces. He was highly agitated, losing it for no apparent reason and his aggressive behaviour was totally disproportionate to the situation. But instead of doing the right thing, being a sensible landlord and dealing with it by having a word with the gig organisers what did he do? He called the cops! Cue two cars of Avon and Somerset’s finest arriving on the scene, making a totally pointless, bullshit arrest, assaulting a man and starting the trouble.

People came out of the pub to question the cops’ behaviour and before you could say “ACAB”, a load more cops had arrived, in full thug mode, pushing people around, using batons and pepper spray in what we have come to understand as their trademark “community policing” approach. These bullies never grew out of it and now they have the full backing of the law to dish out punishment with impunity. And they wonder why so many people hate them so much! Well, as one gig goer pointed out, if this is what we get when just trying to enjoy some bands, maybe it is a case of “Too many gigs, not enough riots”. After making two more incomprehensible arrests with their habitual violence, they withdrew from the area, leaving people wondering what the fuck had just gone on. And perhaps more importantly, what exactly that shithead of a landlord had said to them to bring on such a paramilitary policing response. Interestingly and unbelievably, after bringing all this on, the landlord decided to don a St Pauli football top (a team very much associated with antifascism and anti police/state repression), perhaps in a vain “Look, I’m one of you!” attempt to try and get back in with the punks. It didn’t wash and he was given a big piece of our minds, as well the prize (still to be presented) for the most inappropriate hoodie wearing of the evening. The consensus was that this muppet was really not fit to wear the St Pauli hoodie and a PCSO uniform would suit him much better. What a pillock! So the word has rightly been circulating to leave this pub well alone and numerous gig organisers have cancelled upcoming gigs, stating clearly to the landlord their reasons why. Now you’ve read this, please help tell people about it and encourage them to take their money elsewhere.

So, we were really impressed with the solidarity shown by the Bristol punks this night in the face of it all and we should be proud of what we got. That reminder is one good thing to come out of it (as well as hopefully some successful legal action against the cop thugs!). We made sure the arrestees had friendly faces waiting when they saw the light of day again after being held in Patchway cells all night. Now let’s continue to show our collective solidarity and make sure the two facing charges win in court. Here’s a witness callout put out by the irrepressible Bristol Defendant Solidarity:April 8th witness callout-page001

Spanner / Action Sedition split out now!!!

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We’re very excited to announce the release of our split 7″, “History Lessons”, with Action Sedition, a fantastic Montreal based antifascist band who we were lucky enough to meet and play with on our tour of Canada. In the spirit of international solidarity, we’re especially happy and proud to work with such a great band and top people that are Action Sedition as well as such committed and solid labels like Rebel Time Records, Iron Column Records, Jobsworth Records, Maloka Records and local legends Riot Ska Records. What a line up! We want to say a big thank you to all of the above for all the top work and support that has gone into the release and for their ongoing efforts to encourage movement off as well as on the dancefloors and to make punk a threat again.

The record is available from all the distros involved as well as direct from the bands.

Here’s more info on the release: http://historylessonsep.wordpress.com/

Here it is online: http://dyingscene.com/news/ds-exclusive-spanner-action-sedition-stream-split-7-inch-history-lessons/

We hope you enjoy the songs and they contribute something towards motivation for action!

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Canada tour report (contains scenes of an epic nature!)

Day 1

We made it! Border run complete.

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After a nerve racking flight wondering if we would all get in, our jedi mind tricks did the job with the racist border guards, who had assembled with a TV crew filming for a show called “border security” to document our arrival. This is a prime example of cheerleading for the border regime and anti-immigration lobby. This program has been opposed for making light entertainment out of people’s misery. Their desperate situations should not be a spectacle for daytime TV. We saw how they singled out people of colour for harassment and had an overwhelming urge to confront them and scream “Leave these people alone!”.

Macho racist cops greeting visitors to Canada ain’t the best welcome, and we are sure TV shows like this encourage aggression and violence towards those unfortunate enough to not look “Canadian”. We successfully evaded their scrutiny and invasive questioning but not everyone is as lucky as us. No borders, no nations, stop deportations!

http://noii-van.resist.ca/

First gig of tour last night at Hemisphere Gauche with Farler’s Fury and local anarcho punk legends Jeunesse Apatride.

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Cracking start to the tour and we met great people from Montreal RASH, SHARP and the anarchist movement. We made some new friends and learned a bit about the political situation here, with increasing police repression of social movements and confrontations with fascists. Everywhere we go we see the same problems but looking at the crew we met and from our conversations it is clear that they are in it for the long haul and well used to fighting back. Strength and respect to the Montreal anti fascists and anarchists. And to the Bristol anarchists at the bookfair there today. Hope the day is a huge success and the afterparty is a big one.

Continuing our tour of close brushes with the local authorities after the show we were travelling back and got a pull by the local law. These goons have seriously got their intimidation down to a fine art but our Jedi skills came into use again. As a result we missed last orders where we were hoping to meet up with new friends but we know we’ll be seeing them again.

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Day 2

started with a stonking breakfast courtesy of good friends from Jeunesse  Apatride, then it was on to Quebec with Farlers Fury to a show at a self managed cooperative gig space. Needless to say after load in we got falafel and saw the some of the sights to be seen in Quebec. Our tour guide sucked and took us straight to the parliament. That was boring so we went and played a show with the Maggoty Brats, a truly foot stomping French folk punk outfit. We like this band a lot especially because they gave us a place to stay when things were looking shaky! We’ve fully bonded with Farlers Fury over stupid games and have occasionally loaned them Woody for long journeys. Having established a common love for the mighty Trailor Park Boys with Farlers Fury we came close to a late night sessions session but cool heads prevailed, our time will come……The gig that night was, as they say round here, rad! Ben’s budget French appeared to win some hearts and minds but not as much as Woody’s topless antics and Richy’s funky dancing.

Farler's Fury in action!

Farler’s Fury in action!

 

Day 3

A force of nature!

A force of nature!

…sees our first look at some massive waterfalls, plenty of fun with Farler’s Fury as the silly games kick in properly and getting our asses kicked at a serious game of “bocce” / boules. Punks with lawn games! Later that night, we find ourselves playing a gig, sorry, a show, in someone’s bedroom, in the sleepy town of Sorel.

Eat some!

Eat some!

The highlight of this gig was playing against a backdrop of Trailer park boys on the big screen, which is the stuff of dreams! Then it was back to Montreal for a late night rum sesh with the mighty Farler’s Fury.

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Next up, day 4, was a bit of a walkabout Montreal, with a great sporting moment in tube bunking and a very pleasant jaunt up Mont Royal with our “guide”, Brad from Farler’s Fury. So turns out he doesn’t have a clue where we’re going and we’re left lost in the huge cemetery with imminent zombie attack on everyone’s mind. We refrained from rock n roll poser shots at the top, taking in the view instead, with groundhogs for company. A very nice place, but you’re never too far away from a reminder about Canada’s history of genocide and land theft on a massive scale, and sure enough, the walls of the viewpoint building were adorned with the shameless re-writing of history in various pictures and text. Downtown a hunt for food ensued and just when things were getting desperate faced with overpriced yuppie bars, fast food chains and not much else, a primeval shout rang through the streets, as Nick saw it. Falafel – cheap, quality falafel! We’re beginning to see a pattern here. Well, as luck would have it this day was the day of a demonstration against law P6 and the criminalisation of protests and social movements.

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The town hall was besieged by hundreds of angry people, representing well the diversity of the movement here. You got the impression that everyone was there and that the mood was very much, “We’re not taking this shit anymore!”

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We’ve been hearing how police tactics and actions have become increasingly repressive up to the point where recently the local cop comissioner and all round “douchebag”, to use a local term, declares, “There is no right to protest”. Talk about laying your cards on the table! At least he’s honest. A large, seriously tooled up police presence protecting their masters in the town hall didn’t deter the demonstrators, who loudly and proudly defied the new laws against demonstrations. Really good to see that, in the face of state tyranny, intimidation and violence people refuse to be intimidated off the streets and stay solid together.

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On the way back from the demo, Ben got himself lost in the wrong part of town, but luckily got rescued and taken to the venue by a new friend of the band, Anne, who realised he needed a bit of looking after. Nice one mate! Apparently the gig promoter was on the verge of pulling the gig. Whoops!

The gig was the best yet, at Cafe Chaos, a collectively run co-operative and a spiritual home of Montreal punks and skins, it seems. Again, plenty of new friends made and a top mix of anarchist politics and fun. We like it here! The lads from Farler’s Fury were in a state of euphoria and a huge cheer went up in the place as a well laid and complicated plan to put Ben on the floor came to fruition. Well done boys, but you know the vengeance will be swift and righteous, right?…

Day 5

Starting off in Montreal we had a long drive to Toronto for a show at the Bovine Sex Club, a euro squat style venue. The crowd was a bit static like they were waiting for a bus but we were cheered up by meeting Mr Big, the unseen hand of Rebel Time Records, as well as a good friend from Riot Ska Records from Bristol.

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We got to see The Fallout (who were rocking) and our very own Mr Small from Rebel Time rocking out with Broadcast Zero. Punk points were gained for managing to blow up the guitar amp first go (PHIL!!!) and we made a load of cool new friends. We stayed that night at Caitlin & Patti’s from Brutal Youth with a bit of Trailer Park Boys thrown in for good measure.

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Day 6

After a long, hot, sweaty night we awoke to explore Toronto, first stop vegan burritos. Yeah! We divided our forces for some vegan smoothy tasting and urban foraging with some good results. Then followed a long drive to Kingston for our next gig. This is a military town apparently characterised by especially high and disproportional rates of stop and search for people of colour. We didn’t have high hopes for the show and initially thought we were heading for a quiet one but then we landed in the Sleepless Goat.

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This place is rad! A longstanding workers cooperative and autonomous space based on anarchist principles, they run a truly top notch vegan cafe, host gigs, talks and seminars and provide space for radical organising. Crucially – they know how to party. We like to think they appreciated a critical intervention with some Chas & Dave, to get everyone in the mood and provide a bit of cultural bonding with our Canadian cousins, Farler’s Fury. Although the locals weren’t fielding a full team they threw themselves onto the dance floor where general uproar ensued. Quality not quantity and some of the most fun we’ve had in a while. A pattern is emerging on this tour and we made some great new friends and solid contacts, so much so we’ve decided to go back for a second helping (literally as well as musically – did we mention free vegan dinners?). We felt very at home with these people, especially when we heard this story –

“A cop walks into a vegan coop one day and orders breakfast. While he’s eating one of the coop members approaches him and says “Sir – I’m going to have to ask you to hand in your gun here coz this is a safe space and we regard your gun as a symbol of violence and oppression” to which the cop with incredulity replies “I’m Sorry…….?!” Then the penny drops, he pushes his food away, unfinished and in disgust, stomps out and the place has been cop free ever since”. We then drove to Kitchener which we were led to believe would be like arriving in a revolutionary zone…. “Everything will be better after Kitchener………”

Day 7

We woke up to wall to wall revolution and anarchy and we knew that all the fabled tales of Kitchener as a hot bed of revolt were true. Posters for demos, political meetings and plain disrespect for authority adorned the walls as well as one of the most impressive collections of radical books we have seen in a while since leaving Kebele Library.

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We knew we had arrived in the House of Anarchy! After pulling ourselves away from anarcho book heaven and a long awaited call from back home we headed out to visit friends WPIRG(Waterloo Public Interest Research Group) on the university campus. WPIRG provides resources for and promotes involvement in radical politics, organising and action for social and environmental justice.

Impressively organised and a very welcoming space it’s clear they do a lot of good work and the people there are great. Their literature and organising is being put to good use at the moment fighting the Line 9 reversal to pump tar sands from Alberta to Montreal, rough riding indigenous communities and local community organisations risking a massive environmental disaster. This pipeline was built in the 70’s, has been out of use and the company involved is dodgy to say the least. As well as building pipeline shenanigans the directors are involved in massive prison building programs as the communities out west suffer the effects of the wild west style influx and expansion of a particularly grim form of rampant capitalism. Solidarity with all the pipeline resisters and indigenous land struggles.

After all this talk of revolution and anti-capitalist action it was time for some shopping! The one who shall not be named had true to form left all his clothes in Montreal (6 bloody hours away) so it was decided for everyone’s benefit to sort him a new wardrobe courtesy of the local thrift store, Value Village – a seemingly righteous reuse and recycling company which we have since learned ain’t so and is in fact owned by a for profit private equity company, the friendly face of capitalism eh? Missed opportunity! Darn it. We knew we had sinned as we stepped outside to a massive hail storm, sent to punish us. The Yoof Wing stepped up and did a highly enjoyable radio interview with Eric from Quebec based Prescription Punk Rock on CKRL 89.1fm, talking about the tour, mixing music and politics and generally large amounts of giggling. Hopefully we’ll get to meet him in person at our Montreal show on the 5th. Next up was a top dinner and house party with a bunch of the local trouble makers – it certainly felt like the gang was all here. Some good political chit chat and comparing notes with members of Rebel Time Records, WPIRG and Common Cause. Common Cause is a very committed and inspiring anti-capitalist organisation which gets a lot of good work done and appears very strong on maintaining a intentional approach to organising collectively. They’re not shy of a healthy bit of self critique but are aware of the trap of self analysis becoming paralysis. We like them a lot and sure heck they know how to party, Kitchener style mixing politics with fun.

Common Cause: www.linchpin.ca

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On the subject of mixing the Yoof Wing were at the controls of the jukebox and a great time was had by all, expect maybe for the landlord – back at ya! The night before when we arrived he was partaking in some sonic warfare with his tenants after having the gall to call the cops before when the tenants had a well mannered house party. Needless to say we gave as good as we got. One law for them and one for us? We don’t think so! After an enjoyable late night walk in the local graveyard we divided our forces, the elder statesmen of the band interacted with the local frat boys on the football (soccer…..?) pitch. We bonded with some local drunk students who boosted our confidence in our ball skills and abilities. There was a whole lot of dribbling going on. We got to see some fancy footwork from RTR Phil, a danger man and one to watch……

Day 8

We awoke with trembling hearts ready for the mighty Rebel Fest, but first things first we had to assemble the tempeh production line to make the band food for Friday night.

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The truly excellent “From Bristol with Love” radio show blasted throughout the house and animated the workers. We arrived in Hamilton at Rebel Fest and saw the Rebel Time Records crew in full swing. Impressive stuff! The venue was adorned with top political banners from Common Cause, IWW and local anarchists. The infoshop/merch stalls were a sight to behold. We met up with the Toronto IWW and Ben got cleaned out by a big IWW shop. These folk have some seriously good agitprop. We heard a bit about the refuellers strike at Toronto Airport – the industry standard of pay is $16-18 bucks an hour but they’re only getting $12. Toronto IWW are getting properly stuck in with 3 occupations so far of the main access to the airport and numerous solidarity actions and presence on the picket lines. We wish them all the best with they’re struggle and a quick victory. Go Wobblies!

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Hamilton is a similar sized town to Bristol with a declining manufacturing base and workers suffering the effects of multinational corporations broken promises. Once trade tariffs were abolished US companies have bought up the locals, taken the money and run, rinsing the workers in the process. Yet again people’s lives are being ruined in the endless capitalist quest for profits at any cost. It seems like once strong unions have been demoralised and defeated and lost a lot of power but hopefully they can take inspiration from current struggle and reclaim the feeling of winning again…

The gig and all the bands were amazing and we were pleased to see the Montreal advance party who warned of more coming the next day! We made new friends with the Class Assassins who supported us loads throughout our show when “technical difficulties” ensued.

Class assassins

Class assassins – powerful!

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Big shout to Chris from the Assassins and Kaitlin from Brutal Youth who recognised we needed a bit of looking after….punk unity! After a cracking night the Spanner seniors were ready for a house party, in the face of overwhelming pressure from the IWW and the Montreal crew. However the Yoof Wing stepped up exercising the voice of reason, reminding us we were in it for the long game. So we retreated to Mr Big’s mountaintop bunker for a civilised night cap and banana bread. Yeah!

Day 9

We began the day with a stonking breakfast courtesy of Mr Big, who’s concerns over matching the epic efforts of Montreal friends were unfounded. We met his family and his kid gave us hope for the next generation with Star Wars on the piano and The Clash at full blast. He was right up for a little mosh with Nick and some tai chi with Ben in the garden – he taught us both a few things.We will be watching this one with interest! Then it was round 2 of the tempeh wrap production frenzy with Toronto vs New York on the big screen and well needed rest and recuperation.

We then headed back down to the venue, This Ain’t Hollywood for day 2 of Rebel Fest! There was a serious risk of peaking too early and knackering ourselves out dancing to old and new friends in all the great bands. We linked up again with the phenomenal Farler’s Fury and felt pretty euphoric all night. We had a really fun gig with black and red flags flying high, but not as high as the crowd surfers (who were out in force but respectful of the crowd). The same could not be said of 1 dance floor douche-bag who was all over the place and overbearing. Fail. What was great though was seeing at least 5 different people go and have a quiet word which did have some affect on his worst antics, we later heard that a couple of comrades did some talking with elbows instead. We respect a diversity of tactics in these matters. We were all buzzing during the gig, especially Richie after the Gas drew 3-3 with Torquay with a last minute equaliser on the last day of the season!

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We continued proceedings at the house party conveniently located just the down the street. We split our forces in a hearts and minds operation with Richie, in a shocking display of being sensible, getting an early night at mission control, Woody cementing our friendship with the Montreal punks, Nick the sofa and Ben anyone who would listen! We just want to say at this point how much we enjoyed Rebel Fest and massive respect for all the crew there and involved in the organising from Rebel Time Records – these friends know how to organise, throw and enjoy a party. They too know how to mix politics and fun! They put a lot of work into creating a safe space for everyone and show that revolutionary politics are as much about our interactions with each other as attacking the state. It appears they are quite successful at this as it was one of the best run and friendly events we’ve ever seen. We will be back……

Day 10

While Richie awoke safe and sound at mission control back in Kitchener, things were not so smooth for the party boys. The yoof wing were found to be missing in action, with Nick going for a nice little walk to the lake and getting a bit lost, and Woody ending up in the hotel of the partying punks and skins. Apparently it was in a state of occupation by the Montreal crew. Details of what went on there are unclear. Luckily, Holly, clearly used to this sort of thing, took control of the cat herding operation, with back up from Richie back at base. In social work terms, she says, these sorts of behaviours are termed “system disrupters”. Quite. At the hotel, the receptionist was a bit non-plussed at our efforts to locate Woody, with no name or any useful information available. Here’s an excerpt from that conversation. Ben: “He’s a good lucking young man, scantily clad and quite charming. Looks a bit like Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran.” Receptionist: “Who’s Simon Le Bon?” Finally we managed to pull everyone together and our getaway driver Holly gave us safe passage back to Kitchener. Thanks Holly. You rock!!!

After such a big weekend our hosts Rebel Time thought it would be a nice idea for us to then go do a workshop about autonomous spaces and social centre organising with local student activists in Guelph! After a quick pull by cops for seeing how many anarchists we could fit in a car, and some exemplary jedi mind tricks from Amy, we arrived at OPIRG, late, but ready for action! Against all odds and despite some traditional technical issues, the workshop went very well and hopefully will contribute to ongoing efforts to establish a radical social centre in the city. Next time we come we hope to visit their social centre and liberated zone! It was definitely a takeaway night, and the vegan Chinese dinner was a perfect end to the weekend. Then it was boardgames, where Ben feigned stupidity (“I ain’t thick it’s just a trick”) in a proper art of war style strategy, while Richie smacked it (sorry, Holly! ;-)) emerged victorious in the hard fought and only a little bit competitive game of “Dominion”. Amy had her revenge in a furious poo flinging showdown with Ben (note to readers and disclaimer, this is just a card game!). The yoof wing had crashed early, bless ’em and the rest of us fell asleep while watching “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, disappointingly, before the bit when the apes go rioting. Ah well. Anyway, Rebel fest was a riot!!!

Day 11

We started the day in Kitchener ready for the long drive to Windsor. After a hectic weekend it took us a long time to get our heads round what had happened so we went to Queens St Commons cafe, a fantastic workers coop and community space with cheap, tasty veggie/vegan food. We know we’ll be back there for more top food as well as an autonomous spaces workshop on Wednesday.

When we got to Windsor we had a wander down to the river to look at the land of the free with tour guide Brad who described life in Detroit for us and helped us identify the bankrupt, rotting corpse of the auto industry. Their towers might be standing for now but you know what they say about today’s empires…..

We played a show at the FM lounge and introduced Farler’s Fury to the delights of cheap sherry. the show was put on by great local ska band, the Nefidovs. The gig felt like it was against all odds as the technical difficulties piled up and the locals weren’t allowed to dance freely. A no moshing policy on the dance floor was quite shocking and we made a concerted effort to expose the ridiculous nature of this particular rule with some crazy dancing and borderline moves which kept security twitching. We went back to the Nefidovs place and had a proper little garage shindig until the birds were singing! Next stop London…….

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Day 12 – London calling.

The day started at the “Whistling Kettle”, ticking the authentic country diner experience box for the tour. Not much on offer for the vegans here. Brad from Farler’s Fury got a reprimand from a somewhat disgusted waitress for “bottom feeding”, i.e. recycling someone’s barely touched plate of chips.

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After filling our boots it was then off to London a few hours away (we’ve come to accept 3 hour drives as short journeys now!) for another gig with Broadcast Zero. First stop was falafel and the best so far it was too! We heard about the place over the road; how it used to be a great punk venue and social space but got burned down, without doubt by the landlord, to get “developed” into what it is now, an exclusive bar for the more affluent. Social cleansing and gentrification has been wreaking insidious class war in Canadian towns and cities for some time now and we’ve seen so many parallels with the situation back home.

After a kickabout in the venue car park as we waited for a beer delivery, we loaded in to “Call The Office”, a great little independent live music venue. Team Spanner went into action to help the barman store a huge stack of beer crates and got free pool and cold beers as our reward from a very grateful and overstretched barman. This warmed us up nicely for a top gig with zany dancing aplenty. This is probably where Ben put his back out trying to dance like a teenager. Falafel round 2 at the end of the night was as good as the first, then it was back to revolutionary Kitchener for a few hours sleep before Mayday celebrations next day.

Day 13 – Mayday

So, let us get this straight, to celebrate international worker’s day, which we usually take off from work to relax from the strain and stresses of drudgery, we’re set to work doing not one, but two house moves! WTF?! Pretty sure this wasn’t in the contract. But as the whip was cracked by Phil “the gaffer” Rebel Time, there was no time to unionise or march on the boss. Instead we found ourselves in a human chain of Fordist proportions. Really though, we were very pleased to be able to lend a hand to good friends from Rebel Time who had helped us out so much with various aspects of the tour. The moves were a beautiful metaphor for mutual aid and cooperation and the workers were singing all the way up the stairs (to the second floor!) such timeless worker’s classics as Yaz’s “The only way is up” and “I like to move it, move it” to help keep it pacey.

After the house movements it was on to some seriously gorgeous pancakes (courtesy of cordon rouge et noir chef and all round geezer, Marco), card games and Sangria at our mate Holly’s. While Nick celebrated his birthday, getting a bit day drunk with the crew, Ben had a bit of a plumbing accident trying to sort blocked water pipes for Holly and succeeded in washing the kitchen floor and himself with waste water. Should have called a pro in, really.

Next up was a game of boules and footie in the park under the watchful surveillance of some custodians of the peace, munching doughnuts in their van and generally being an irritating presence. Next it was time for another workshop on social centre organising at the Queen Street Commons café in Kitchener. Some 20 people showed up and there was plenty of good discussion and participation. Hopefully the workshop will contribute to building momentum and motivation for creating a radical social centre in the city. The will certainly appears to be there and there are plenty of good comrades up to the job…

Meanwhile, the rest of the Spanner crew were busy preparing for tonight’s gig, with Woody and Nick out on the streets on a charm offensive, working their magic with gig flyers in hand. The gig was totally packed, very lively and a great celebration of both Nick’s birthday and Mayday. We played on floor level, which is always our preference, and we were proud to play to such a fine crowd of punks, anarchists and good people. The bar is one of those city centre, well heeled sort of places where we would not usually tread, but for a while we made it ours. Broadcast Zero played their last show with us and were on fire.There was some uncontrollable dancing and lots of fun. There was also a solid challenge laid down to the United Radicals local football team and a game was set for the next day.

Mayday is a day for remembering those who have struggled before us for a better world. We remember and honour anarchists and revolutionaries murdered by the state, from Haymarket to the present day. We recognise the need to continue the long and difficult fight for revolutionary change and to work for a world based on cooperation, solidarity and freedom, free from domination, poverty and inequality. In Canada, we need to recognise the shameful history of colonisation and genocide waged against the indigenous people here. We’ve learned about the sickening racism and atrocities of the “residential schools”, where indigenous children, forcibly separated from their families, were routinely subjected to psychological and physical abuse. Documented evidence shows how many were killed by being deliberately exposed to other children with tuberculosis. The trauma suffered by a colonised people is reflected in the everyday reality of harsh life on the reservations, characterised by social decay, poverty and alcoholism. Indigenous people are hugely overrepresented in Canada’s jails, a testament to systemic, institutionalised racism. Kitchener is an accurate representation of the bigger picture of dispossession and betrayal. Six Nations people were used as pawns in colonial wars and promised land alongside the Grand River in return. This promise was broken and land agreements have never been honoured by settlers since.

However, in the face of it all, Six Nations people continue their proud history of struggle , resisting further corporate takeovers of their lands and fighting for their rights to land and a dignified life. The unity of First Nation tribes is helping to block the development of new oil pipe lines and has forced the desperate moves relating to the Line 9 Reversal.

Day 14

After breakfast there followed a long walk in sweltering heat to the football pitch for a much anticipated game with the local anarcho footie team, United Radicals. We quickly realised the long walk was part of a wider strategy to test and/or weaken our resolve. Unbowed, and feeling pretty warmed up, we arrived late. Numbers were down somewhat from the expected hordes, with Spanner stepping forward with two of the best, to be met by three local champions. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time for a game, as we had to leave for Barrie, but we sure gave ‘em a taste of things to come…

Next up was the small town of Barrie, and the excellent DIY community arts space. As we went in we knew we were in the right place. A great venue which hosts kid’s activities, women’s and trans groups, food not bombs and cultural events. They have been going a year and a half and are clearly very creative, learning a lot on their feet and making the road by walking it. The last of the workshops on autonomous spaces and social centre organising was really well attended, with a really good level of discussion and participation.

The gig saw some frantic dancefloor action as the locals presented their champion skankers. But the gig was just the beginning of a seriously rowdy night as everyone seemed to coincide in agreement that it was party night! Things got rowdy with an impromptu punk karaoke marathon, a death metal jam session, late night keepy uppy and much hilarity. Thankfully there were no immediate neighbours to keepy uppy! As a very drunken night took hold, some took a break from the mayhem, choosing their moment to see some of the sights of the town. Local dumpster divers gave us a tour of the town’s skips and some successful urban foraging provided our bagel, bread and crisps needs for the next few days. Ben got stuck in a skip as a car pulled up. Thinking it may be cops he made like a rubbish bag, only to receive a barrage of bin bags, most of which narrowly missed his head, courtesy of a late night fly tipper. We saw the funny side. Back at DIY the fervour had abated somewhat by the time the scavengers returned at 4am. All in all a top night and some new friends made again!

Day 15

After a hard night partying there was a distinct lack of sleep and a sluggish start to the day. A scavenged bagel breakfast set us up for a long hot drive to Ottawa and after goodbyes to our new friends from the Barrie DIY Crew we were on our way.

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Ben managed to pick up some snazzy shorts for his wardrobe and Jody engaged in roadside turtle rescue then we were reunited with the mighty Jon Creedan on route to the capital. It was another falafel stop for the spanner boys and we got to meet Brad’s folks at the show. Brad was on best behaviour. The crowd was a bit standoffish but appreciative and we managed to shift some of our dwindling merch. Brad’s brother Matthieu put us up and Nick got a zombie attack in on the flyscreen (walked into it unawares! Whoops!). A good night.

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Day 16

We had an impressive drive to Sherbrooke encountering the wilderness and dust. Suddenly a dog appeared and we were inches away from a roadkill situation. Luckily, Ben jumped out and rescued the dog from the bourgeois horse riders who didn’t care one bit. We weren’t impressed and they got a proper earful. There were shiny signs in opposition to the asphalt factory which was good to see. After traversing through the hills of Quebec we arrived at the lake which was massive. We dipped in it and felt the coldness of the chilly Canadian waters run through our bones.

Sherbrooke was hot and this called for a stir fry extravaganza! Farler’s Fury were literally on fire and it was an honor to watch their 300th show with much dancing to be had by all. Spanner overcame some technical setbacks – again! We met a Sherbrooke anarchist group and heard exciting news about a new space, “Art Focus”. The night finished off with some vegan pizza which was actually quite disappointing. No zombie attacks this night.

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Day 17

Bit of an emotional day today as this was the day of the our last gig with our mates Farler’s Fury. A top bit of urban foraging lifted the slightly melancholic mood and we ate well on the way to Montreal. On arrival, we had our doubts about the venue, which looked like a right hipster haunt. And the Mexican food up the road was totally duff. Disgruntled, from Bristol. Vegan ice cream just across the street helped Ben cope and as local friends started arriving we knew that the punks and skins from the city would not let us play in an empty yuppie bar! We heard news from comrades about the Mayday demo in the city which was heavily repressed by cops, with a mass arrest of 447 people and plenty of beatings from the thugs in uniform. Seems like it’s hammer time as the authorities are taking the gloves off with increasing levels of police violence together with their much hated new laws against public demonstrations. We were pleased to hear that there will be a campaign of mass non payment of fines resulting from the arrests. We hope the rebels and resisters of Montreal stay solid and carry on fighting! We learned the slogan of the week from our good friends and comrades: “A pie, a cheval ou en helicoptere, un bon flic est au cimitiere”. Agreed. For more information about the situation in Montreal see rebeltimerecords.com and click on the podcast section.

The Fury boys got the dance going fast and furious, as is their tendency, and the place was jumping when we played. This was without a doubt one of the best gigs this tour as a fitting transformation of the hipsters bar into one mutha of a moshpit took hold. Our elation was mixed with a bit of melancholy as we helped the lads from Farler’s Fury’s put backline to bed for one last time. Then it was off to the excellent “Yer Mad” bar to continue the party and have a goodbye drink with the local punks and skins. We talked tactics and politics mixed with plain and simple banter and got an offer of a tour in Mexico! To be continued…

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After a last photo and farewell it was back to Farler’s Fury Brad’s for an all nighter. There was fun, games and much hilarity until sunrise and a long awaited Trailer Park Boys session which had us doubled up laughing. The yoof wing were again MIA having gone rogue some time earlier, but Nick made sure the Spanner seniors were tucked up snugly before heading out.

At this point we want to say a huge thank you to Farler’s Fury for making us feel so welcome, helping us out so much and being so fucking rad, for providing the necessaries for some top dances and for being such a good laugh as well as good people and an ass kickingly great band on top of all that. It was a total pleasure to tour with them and this will be a good example of how solid friendships know no borders! We’ll be seeing you again geezers! Keep doin’ it. Love and respect.

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Day 18

The hunt for breakfast took too long today and the last thing we needed was a stroppy cafe manager, but that’s exactly what we got. The waitress from hell clearly didn’t like the cut of our gib and pretty much refused to serve us. But we prevailed, locating a top little caff just down the street. Then it was time for Ben to get reunited with his clothes and goodbyes to the good lads from Farler’s Fury and the lovely Poutine. Lovely dog, but fancy calling your dog “Cheesy chips with gravy”!? After another nosy cop half heartedly trying to assert their authority, we headed out, really late, towards Kingston for our last gig of the tour.

Farler’s Fury were still with us full blast with their go faster mix of punk and folk, bringing good memories and smiles aplenty (as well as a bit of welling up!). Top band, top people. We missed them already, and we also missed their spacious van! The journey was tough, buried under our rucksacks (“Pretty sure it didn’t look like this in the contract, PHIL!!!”). Solid navigation from Richie, hard driving from “long haul” Phil and a back seat sandwich bar that defied prevailing conditions, got us through to Kingston, only one hour late. We arrived just as the other band, the Beta 58s, were loading in. We were excited to be at the Sleepless Goat for a second helping and wasted no time in securing vegan burritos, hot chocolate and whopper cookies. Big thanks to Jessie, Maggie and the crew there, who recognised our time of need as delayed action hangovers kicked in, and made us burritos especially. We had a nice surprise as our mate Elys from DIY in Barrie had made the trip down for our last gig. The world needs more people like her and all the crew from the Sleepless Goat. A good sized crowd was clearly right up for it and the Beta 58s, with a fierce street punk sound, got the dance going.

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They were really good and very generous to share their backline with us. Nice one guys! We had a cracking last gig and there was one helluva dance as the cafe filled with a fun loving, very diverse crowd. At one point a bunch of big blokes came in and there was some concern (in the context of this being a military town with 3 bases and also 3 prisons) amongst party goers as they didn’t seem like the usual crowd. But they were just lads out on the lash and had a good time of it as well. A little reminder, perhaps, that we’d do well not to make such quick assumptions or treat people with suspicion due to subcultural (or dare we say, class?) prejudices.

However, we were right about the intentions of the next one through the door. Luckily, it was during our last song and when we’d already had our fun that the cops turned up to shut the party down. We feel like maybe we didn’t got off on the right foot with the cops here and this incursion was just the latest in a list of annoyances. Anyway, we didn’t want to cause trouble for the Goat crew, so agreed to cut the last song short. Just wish we had a cover of “Oh no, it’s the pigs” by PAIN at the ready for that one.

Packed of with lush muffins and bread from the awesome Sleepless Goat bakery, a ferocious round of sock wrestling followed in the street outside. Elys emerged victorious, having come prepared with knee length socks under tight jeans! There’s gotta be a rule against that somewhere! We stayed at Rocko and Josh from Beta 58’s bachelor pad out in the sticks and very nice it was too!

Day 19

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As far as a perfect end to a truly epic tour goes, we couldn’t get any better. After a top breakfast on the garden lawn we headedout for a bit of lake and woods time before dropping the yoof wing, Nick and Woody, at Toronto airport. The lake and woods were gorgeous and we had the place to ourselves. Richy’s wild side quickly emerged and his sun protection measures gave him a certain feral appearance.

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Ben had a swim with a river snake and Phil kept pouring our highly prized maple syrup away, somehow missing the sandwich at close range. PHIL!!! Then it was off to the airport for goodbyes as Woody and Nick headed out over the pond.

Good job boys! What a blast!

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Huge thanks to all the following for looking after us, putting us up, putting up with us and helping to make tour so totally awesome and rad!:

The Rebel Time Records crew, who understand about mixing radical politics and fun and know about putting the hard work in where it counts, always with an eye on organising reflecting the sort of world we want to see: the unstoppable Phil, the hugely solid Mr. Big and his lovely family, Holly, Amy, Alisha, Tammy and Jean, the organisers and all round great women, the brilliant Dan, Alex, Alisha, Mike, Johan and Kim and the Tempeh king, and great provider, Paul – what a solid crew!

Then there’s Farler’s Fury, of course, as well as all the top bands who played with us, all the top people who put on shows for us, Elys and the Barrie DIY crew, the Sleepless Goat mob, Montreal RASH and punks n skins, Anne, Julie and Marie Pier: the rescue party, all the good people who showed up for us, bought merch, cooked food, talked with and shared some top moments with us, supported the tour and the local scene, and all the lovely people who gave us a place to stay. We’re sure we’ve forgotten some and maybe didn’t get to meet some people working behind the scenes, so big thanks to all you too! We’re really grateful and inspired by everyone we’ve met and what we’ve seen going on here. Stay solid. Keep doin’ it! We’ll be back!…

Here’s some of the wicked bands we were lucky enough to play with and get to know as well as some of the soundtrack that kept us going on some of the long roads across Canada:

Jeunesse Apatride, The Maggoty Brats, Jon Creedan, Broadcast zero, The Fallout, Beat Noir, Steeltown Spoilers, Class Assassins, At What Cost, The Nefidovs, Mayday, Action Sedition, Hold a Grudge, Brutal youth, Stick and Poke, Crisis Conspiracy, The Beta 58s and of course the mighty Farler’s Fury!

And in the car, providing the go faster road music that kept us going (as well as all the above!) Obrint Pas, Brigada Flores Magon, Ya Basta!, Banda Bassotti, Bob Marley, SNAFU, D.O.A., Jesse Lebourdais, Cambridge, The Rebel Spell, Brat Attack and some unsolicited, but pretty damn euphoric, cheezy pop.

Rebel Time Records Rock!

Check this out! Those good people at Rebel Time Records have only gone and sorted a download by donation site for us! These guys mean business (and by this we mean in the anticapitalist, revolutionary sense of the word!). But seriously, the download thing is part of our efforts to pay for a tour of Canada this spring to help spread the good word of anarchy and dancing, so please pass the word on and support our adventures over the water. Nice one!

You can get all tracks from the album “Crisis” here:

http://rebeltimerecords.bandcamp.com/

IWW strike films with Spanner soundtrack!

Loads of respect to Bristol IWW and Permanent Culture for these films and their ongoing solid organising and radical media work respectively. Check them out:

Bristol IWW
Permanent Culture Now/

Brittany tour, October 2011

Well that was good.  What an understatement!  We spent a long weekend in Brittany, leaving on 26th and arriving home on the 31st October and played 4 gigs in 3 days.  It was the first tour with Nick and Em and they did us proud!  Introducing…

Unstoppable Em

Unstoppable Em

Quick Nick

Quick Nick

There were times when we thought we had Chris Evans stowed away in the back of the van (see photos), but Nick doesn’t need cocaine to hit the drums hard and fast!  They call him Quick Nick, or sometimes Noisy Nick. He’s often both.  Em was unstoppable, driving and partying her way round Brittany (not at the same time) and Fin was tireless on the infoshop and provided Ben with some sound dietary advice.  He paid little to no attention and his chocolate frenzy continued throughout the tour and he is yet to come down from the sugar high.  Pete and Richie showed no signs of old age and kept the party going the whole way round, always being the last ones standing.  What a crew!

Everyone had a turn at being DJ in the front seat and the soundtrack to the tour was outstanding.  Some of the favourites that kept us rocking along were France’s very own Skuds and Panic People, Ya Basta!, Brixton Cats (who we were lucky enough to play with), Tighten Up Ska Complilation,  Primeval Soup, The Cabrians, The Offenders, The Freebooters, Drowning Dog and Malatesta to name a few. But as we cannot live on ska, punk and hip hop alone, we ate our way round Brittany in style, courtesy of our hosts and various supermarkets that were quite often just giving it away!  Incredible!

A big thank you to Vince and Mass Prod who organised the whole tour for us and made sure we were well looked after.  These kids understand about DIY punk and know how to do it properly.  The Mass Prod HQ was the first stop when we arrived in France and it was great to meet them.  It’s an impressive organisation doing so much good work for DIY punk in Brittany and beyond.  They’ll be seeing us again!

The Gigs

Ty Ana tavern, Rennes 27th October. with R’laaaa!!!

The first gig was in the beautiful medieval town of Rennes.  There is a good local scene here and we were made to feel very welcome, with the back room of the venue rammed full of sweaty dancing people all having a good time.  A top local band called ‘R’laaaa!!!’ opened the night in style with some brilliant French Folk Punk.  For a moment we were back in the Paris commune awaiting the onslaught of the enemies of freedom. This was barricades music indeed! We tried to kidnap them, but they weren’t having it, citing work as getting in the way of fun. We persuaded them that heading to the UK was a good idea so hopefully they’ll be travelling this way one day soon. There was plenty of interest in the infoshop and Rennes proved to be a cracking place to kick off the tour!

Now we have some youth in the band we stepped up to the challenge of two gigs in one night.
Our guide took us the scenic route and we nearly ran out of diesel, but arrived in time to play a rip-roaring late night gig in a squatted big house in the middle of the woods, to a room full of wasted crusties, squatters and punks. Made us feel quite at home! The night was a benefit for a French anti-nuclear direct action campaign (we didn’t know this at time, but all good!).  After we played, things looked promising and we geared ourselves up for an all night ska-athon.  However, this didn’t materialise so we clambered up the ladder to our beds in the barn roof and went to sleep.  For about two hours anyway!  After some early morning Chestnut picking and diesel scrounging, we emerged from this wooded haven and set off for Tregunc. Cheers to the Bovel squat punks for their hospitality, generosity, some very welcome punk pizza and home brewed cider!

Le Sterren, Tregunc 28th October with Heaven Sucks, Brixton Cats and Washington Dead Cats.

This gig was organised by Antifa and was very impressively done! Wierdly, it was in a town hall and the local council pays for loads of it. It was great to see such a wide range of ages involved in this gig, from cooking a full on dinner for all bands and crew, to running the bar and door. They were also selling pizza for youth projects so Ben thought it best to support that by buying multiple slices! Once again we were supplied with drinks all night; we were spoilt on this tour! The stage we played on was massive, which meant plenty of room for breakdancing during the sound check but it was a bit lonely at each side. Give us the back of a pub and a sweaty mob up close and personal any day!

There was a big and very mixed crowd and they were loving it. We sold loads from the infoshop and Spanner merch was flying out, testing Em’s minimal French language (and maths) skills.  We met some ace people this night, from the local ASSO (community association), Antifa, Breton anarchists and General Strike records. We promised them we’d be back!

We got to play with the Brixton Cats – what a band and such lovely people! Ben found his guitar hero in Mathieu and pestered him for guitar wisdom at the house we stayed at that night.

Much hilarity and nonsense occurred as we made friends through our mutual love of 80s cheesy pop! Em had everyone gobsmacked with her party piece of “In the Jungle” by Tight Fit, played through two, yes two, whistles… through her nose!  We were very sad to say bye to the Brixton Cats and Heaven Sucks crew, but we’re sure we’ll see them again soon. Toujours bienvenus ici, camarades!

En route to the next gig we got in a bit of culture, with a visit to an ancient burial mound called Maison des Nains (House of the Dwarves).  We got in the zone, took some proper rock n roll photos, had some wrestling and tribal war games and unwittingly, we should say, spoilt the peace and quiet for some other visitors to this sacred, tranquil place. (Desole!).

Le Havana Café, Lannion 29th October.

We had time for a bit of a walkabout in Lannion, which was another nice medieval town.  Le Havana Cafe was definitely a bit more like it. A small room in the back of a pub – a lot more cosy! We were the only band playing this night and they asked us to play a longer set.  Step up Nick, the wizard, with a calm and confident suggestion of playing 3 songs we’d never practiced!  After a couple of listens to the CD in the van and drumming on the steering wheel, he was ready.  He only went and played them better than the rest of us!  It’s nice to have a bit of talent in the band!

This was the night of the street punks, with new friends from the night before up the front again! Salut les gars! By this time we were pretty fucked but Pete, the old boy of the band, made the call to do the set in one hit, instead of the two shorter sets requested by the venue. Anarchy! Or maybe just getting it out the way… Anyway, we had a great gig, passing over an hour in a very sweaty and uproarious fashion, doing our sore, ragged throats the world of good!

After the gig our hosts invited us out to another bar, but what they neglected to mention was that it was on Brittany’s most violent street. Sure enough, after a while a fight kicked off with macho twats knocking shit out of each other, shortly followed by macho twats in uniforms coming with big sticks and CS spray to “keep the peace” and make it all alright again (?!). French police clearly could give the Met a run for their money in their delicate handling of people who speak out against them or get in the way of their “justice”. We saw a woman protesting the arrest of her boyfriend, who had been largely on the receiving end of the violence, put in a headlock and manhandled into a cop car by one of the thugs in uniform. As they say in France, “Police partout, justice nulle part!” – Police everywhere, justice nowhere. Same scum, different uniform. Other than that, a top night out.

The journey home was epic and this is when we really saw just what an addition to the band we have with Em. Ah, to have youth (and strong French coffee) on your side! Absolutely solid and tireless, laughing all the way! Especially when Pete had a go at some impromptu, cidered up free running at Mont St. Michel and fell flat on his arse much to the amusement of the assembled, howling mob! The euphoria tinged with hysteria kicked in as hard as Pete’s landing towards the end.  Richie’s solid reggae and ska tunes selection kept us bouncing all the way home. As is traditional for us, we nearly missed the ferry after some confusion about clocks changing. We got there just in time, with 20 minutes to spare (well it keeps it exciting, innit?!) and settled in for the ferry ride home.

We got back to Bristol in the early hours of Monday morning, tired but elated, unloaded all the kit back into the studio and then posed for one last photo before normal life resumed. The tour had been amazing.

We were all buzzing and wanting to do it all again as soon as possible. We met so many good people and all had some wicked times together, spending four days sharing everything and doing everything collectively, where everyone is involved, putting in whatever they can to make it all work… in a spanner in the works kind of way of course! Plenty more where that came from!…

“Hey Dad, can you tell Mum I might be home late tonight?” Punk art in Brittany.

 

Thanks to Theo Koppen for b/w band photos at Ty Ana and Jacques Le Baill for band photos at Tregunc.

View all the tour pics

Riot Ska digital download

Well, this is it! We made it onto a sampler CD of the mighty Riot Ska records!!!  Autonomous spaces has squatted the playlist! For immediate free download of 24-track album in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire go to:

http://riotskarecords.bandcamp.com/album/global-unity-musik-ii-v-a

Nice one kidz! See you for a bop soon!