The Many Shades of Gray

The End – Flock of Seagulls

I have sweet memories of this band. When I was working at a big motorcycle expo in Amsterdam in 2005. I was trying to sell subscriptions to visitors to a motor magazine. I did really well,  and was exhausted after each day and went home on my bicycle with Interpol on my iPod shuffle. Remember that one? It was a glorified USB stick, with a headphone socket. I played a Flock of Seagulls because they were in the GTA Vice City soundtrack on my Playstation 2.

This band from Liverpool brought post-punk to the mainstream in a teriffic and successful way with their hit song “I Ran” and more. This one is from their third album, when they weren’t as popular anymore, I picked this one because it’s the most moody one they did I think, and also, this whole album is completely overlooked and underrated. I think it is beautiful and also very romantic sounding. Above all:  I thought it was time we gave these guys and the more commercial side of post-punk some stage in our podcast.

A Flock of Seagulls were formed in 1979 by Mike Score together with his brother Ali. They turned out to be a very influential band in the 1980s. They had a string of international hit singles including “I Ran”, “Space Age Love Song”, and “The More You Live, the More You Love”.

The most famous video was for their music video “I Ran” that received airplay on MTV during the Second British Invasion. In the video Mike Score introduced his signature insane hairstyle with that pointy part on the front, a kind of unicorn flap on his forehead. The thing was, It was important that bands would stand out in the MTV era and were instantly recognizable. So, anyone that grew up in the 80’s and MTV era, can remember that pointy, sprayed, hair of Mike Score. 

He is now bald as a pool ball by the way. And it’s sad to see that they are now playing at wedding parties etc. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But who am I to judge, everyone needs to make a living.

The Cramps – Human Fly (Teenage Werewolf, 1979)

“The Lords of Rockabilly Voodoo”

Psychobilly is a Goth Post-Punk subgenre that mixes elements of rockabilly and punk rock. It’s rockabilly, but gothier, dirtier, louder, sweatier, and inspired by bad sci-fi and horror movies. Many psychobilly bands are trios of electric guitar, upright double bass and often a standing drummer, with one of the group being the singer.

The Cramps are widely given credit for laying the foundations of the genre, being born out of New York City’s 1970s punk underground, and they were the first psychobilly band to gain an international following. This song, Human Fly was the opener for The Cramps when they were double billed with the Fall in London and Manchester in 1980.

This was probably the tour that Bono attended and which inspired him to write 11 O’Clock Tick Tock, inspired/scared because of the atmosphere and chaos at the concert:

Skinheads storming the podium while the band played on, a naked lead singer lying on the dance floor and continuing to sing, it may have been a little much 😉

There is no footage from the UK tour, but to recapture some of the atmosphere here is a rare live video of Human Fly Live at the New York Mudd Club in 1981:

Rockabilly Voodoo indeed!

Nekromantix – Gargoyles over Copenhagen

The second wave of psychobilly started in the second half of the eighties. The genre soon spread throughout Europe, inspiring a number of new acts such as the British band Demented Are Go’s (1986) Mad Sin (from Germany in 1987) and the Nekromantix (from Denmark in 1989), all again with Goth themes to their music and shows.

Since the Nekromantix featured one of my favorite guitar players, Peter Sandorff, I chose their “Gargoyles over Kopenhagen” as the second track. This band’s frontman Kim Nekroman’s plays the “coffinbass”, a custom-built double bass with a body in the shape of a coffin and a headstock the shape of a cross. This is from the 2002 album “Return of the Loving Dead”, the Nekromantix American breakthrough album.

I’m trying to escape, I’m on the run from these hellsent creatures, they are all over me Please help me someone, dial 911 The invasion has begun, this is the end of humanity

These Danes became part of the emerging psychobilly movement on the West Coast centered around the Hellcat label. The band toured the United States several times and the album was even supported with a music video for the song “Gargoyles Over Copenhagen”.  

State of Sound Part 1 & 2 – Secret Sounds

Sometimes, you are surprised and happy as a small kid that receives the gift he wants for Christmas. I picked up on the Dutch band, Secret Sounds through a mix on Mixcloud.

The song State of Sound gripped me immediately and I was eager to find out more about Secret Sounds. What really speaks to me is the romantic, American sounding, moody vibe. It feels like this song could be featured on the soundtrack of The Breakfast Club. Yes it is poppy, but also has the exact right melancholic mood that I absolutely love. Also it has some Wave influences here and there. It is very, very well put together I think. It makes me feel homesick to a time or situation that I can’t really put into place. I’m not sure.

Lucky enough, One of the founding fathers is still active on Facebook and I got in touch with him. His name is Wilmer Wolf. Can a name get cooler than that? No it can’t. Well maybe Winston Wolf, the gentlemen body-disposal-guy from Pulp Fiction, played by Harvey Keitel.

Wilmer has been active since his teenage years in tampering with taperecorders and writing lyrics. In the 80’s he became the frontman of Secret Sounds. They released a string of successful albums, and had a great live performance. Since the 90’s Wilmer has been active as a producer/engineer for Racoon, Bettie Serveert, and Adrian Borland from the Sound. We covered Adrian extensively a few episodes back.

After his studio years Wilmer suffered from depression, addiction and loss of family members. Basically, he lost everything he cared for, in a short time period. It took him years to get back on track. In 2017 he released a solo album by the name of “The Inside Story”. Not only a talented musician, but above all, a very friendly and likeable guy. Thank you Wilmer, for taking the time to do the interview with us. That is now available on our website for you to enjoy

Fun fact: The drummer of Secret Sounds is well known in the Netherlands. Not just for his music, he was in a reality TV show some years ago. His name is Toni Peroni, and his son (also named Tony) used to date my girl neighbor: Maan

Claw Boys Claw – Hippy on the Highway (Shocking Shades Of Claw Boys Claw, 1984)

Claw Boys Claw was founded in 1983 by drummer Allard Jolles, guitarist John Cameron and bass player Bobbie Rossini. Singer and graphic designer Peter Te Bos completed the band. They were a great live band right off the bat, especially Te Bos standing out with his powerful voice and sensational and exciting stage presentation. The band played post-punk garage rock with a lot of sound and energy in the spirit of The Stooges and The Gun Club.

With their exciting mix of rock, punk, rockabilly and blues the band quickly became famous, winning the first prize in a talent show in November 1983: 500 guilders (227 Euro). With that money the band booked 3 hours in a studio and in that time they recorded their debut album. The sound quality leaves much to be desired, but what is clearly audible is the spontaneity, the power, the joy in playing and the energy. It sounds like a band that almost bursts out of the rehearsal room.

The record was released (on vinyl) on their own Hipcat label, probably around May 1984, and was quite successful, partly due to the unrelenting flow of concerts the band gives. That’s when I saw them for the first time and as so often during their concerts, the roof went off. What an excitement and lust for life! Really impressive. Their most impressive concert I attended was in 1993 at the biggest Dutch festival, Pinkpop, where they were pretty close to top of the lineup, second only to acts like Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crowes.

By the way, it’s striking how much this band sounds like Nirvana, 10 years before that band was founded. The riffs, the use of dynamics, the emotion and energy, all elements of Grunge could already be experienced in the shows and music of Claw Boys Claw in 1984!

Tent – Distances (Without Shelter 1983)

Back in 2009 I decided that I wanted to collect vinyl and play it on the most ridiculously expensive system I could afford. And that’s exactly what I did, but a few years back I sold it all. One of the first records I dug up, was this one by Tent – Without Shelter from 1983. It was in a cardboard box, together with the soundtrack to Topgun and some other stuff. I purely picked it our because the record cover looked interesting to me. And for € 1 each, it was worth a shot. It turned out to be one of my best and most rare finds during a 10 year collecting spree. And it turned out these guys were a Dutch band from the coastal town of Heemstede, close to Haarlem.

I think this is good music, with a bit of a post-punk edge. I think Distances is the best of the lot. The album sounds clinical and a bit mechanical, but with sections of atmosphere and mystery. The track “Miles and Miles” could have easily become a radio hit, but it all stayed under the radar. They did a few gigs on Dutch soil, but soon disbanded in 1985 after 2 albums.

Violent Vickie – Serotonin

This week’s INSTA OUTCAST is Violent Vickie. She has been active on the scene for about seven years, but still is something of an enigma, with not all that much being published about her online. So we reached out and did an interview with Vickie. You can read the full interview right here on our site,

The name Violent Vickie sounds pretty punk, but in the interview she describes herself as a “Chill, funny, sober vegan hippie, no longer into alcohol and drugs, and not quite as punk as I was before”.  

She is a one woman act from California USA, living close to San Francisco. She wrote these songs over the course of the last few years and recorded with “E”, her collaborator. He did the guitar parts & some of the co-production.

Even though she is living a wholesome life these days, powered by fruit, greens, air & sun, the song is pretty intense. Let’s listen to Serotonin, which, Vickie hopes will make you feel connected, elated and maybe even understood.

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