Tamworth Bands - History 1960-1990

Ferocious Apaches

Rob Cross - circa 1987
Photograph courtesy: Mark Mortimer
The Gallery

Band Members
Rob Cross - Fuzz guitar (Amington Heath)
[Also in Herb Garden, Big Muff, Liberty Caps, The Hamilton Hammond Extension]
John Hodgkiss - Lead Vocals (Handsacre, Armitage)
Mark Hynds - Drums (Glascote)
Bob - Bass

Sonic Noise Happening
Emma Gibbs Loves Badges
Ruby Blaze
The Outside
Flowers in the Attic
The Eppies
Ferocious Apaches

Tamworth Arts Centre

Memories - 1986/1987
Mark and I were swept up in the ‘original indie’ movement that was led by such acts as the Shop Assistants, Soup Dragons, 3 Johns, June Brides, the Pastels and of course the Jesus and Mary Chain (the latest in a long line of media tagged ‘new Sex Pistols’). It was a time when anyone who could be vaguely similar to the Velvet Underground or the Ramones could have a career - or at least a mention in the NME, hell that was good enough for us, the sky was the limit maybe even a Peel session, top of the world Ma!

From Mark’s art school connections, John (who could actually play guitar and even sing in tune – almost a red card offence in C86 circles) completed what was to be the core of the Ferocious Apaches, Bob the original bass player came to us from the ether (or was it Austrey?) and after the original anoraked attack, fell away just as mysteriously. We were blatantly in the shadow of the Jesus and Mary Chain, Loop and of course the Velvets, fortunately living in Tamworth meant that 5 possibly 6 other people knew of these bands, one well meaning member of the Tamworth music scene even tried to complement us with the ‘new Sex Pistols’ tag! Unfortunately blankets of feedback and 2 iffy chords endeared us to few; semi-legendary PA man Denis Byfield claimed that we were ruining his business because people thought he was fucking up and making the ‘terrible noises’.

Fortunately (again) we enjoyed the patronage of ‘tonight Matthew I’m going to be Bob Geldof’ all round good guy Ian Gibbons. Ian was the proprietor of the Rathole along with Chippy, the fourth Fabulous Furry Freak Brother.

Ferocious ApachesA moment should be taken to explain the Rathole. The Rathole was like someone had taken all the legendary stories about what a dive CBGBs was, stuck them on a boat and transported the lot across the Atlantic, halfway across the boat caught fire and sank into the water, Jaques Cousteau found the remains and sold them to a guy that owned a seedy night club on Church Street in Tamworth, the seedy night club owner stored the rotting remains in the loft above his club at which point Ian and Chippy (possibly with the help of some of Chippy’s special reserve) came across the whole sorry mess and said “This would be perfect for an alternative club, if we made the toilets a little less classy”. Bang! The Rathole, 2 quid in, try not to throw up on the band whilst they are near the electrical sockets.

We were allowed a hand in the Rathole, suggesting bands, designing posters, DJing, using the photocopier to print our crappy fanzines and of course getting a few (what we considered) plum support slots. It was at some point in one of these ‘getting our chops’ shows (TM a lot of dumb people who miss the point of playing the blues – hello Mr. Clapton) that the fabulous M decided (possibly whilst drunk or high) that we should go into Expresso Bongo studios and record our schtick for future generations. Whatever the deal we held him to this and were the first band to utilise the brand new 16 track desk. 16 tracks back then was a big deal to a small band and thus we utilised every track, tracks 1+2 for drums (we only had 2 drums) 3 for bass, 4+5 for guitars, 6 for vocals, 7+8+9+10+11+12+13+14+15 we filled with layer upon layer of feed back (which in the final mix sounded like a layer of feedback – go figure?). Under Mr Spear’s instruction we kept the last track clear just in case we needed it – as we didn’t we got Hamilton Hammond to put his magic fingers to our last track, to this day we owe him his fee.

We played the Tamworth Rock Festival to some derision including an infuriated bellow from a member of Spirit Lake as we left the stage:


Our offering his son a job in the band went down poorly.

Along with Emma Gibbs Loves Badges we had achieved notoriety (the new sex pistols – honest!) so we staged the Uptight evening – 6 bands 50 pence in, no guest list, no press. The idea being that £3 for 2 bands was an outrage (£3 for 2 ‘local’ bands was an outrage!). We had a fabulous evening and as egos demanded we went on last (schmucks that we were) we thought that the increase in audience numbers as we were playing was due to our popularity. As it turned out the doors were still open and beer was still being served after licensing curfew – hence the audience increase and the shouts for “Down Under”.

Around this same time we got in another recording session which was simpler but all the pop had gone – we were now a noiserock band man, a damn good one. So that’s where we left it.

Thanks to: Rob Cross

Tamworth Herald – 31/07/87
Musicbox – Sharp looks and some jolly noise
THE RATHOLE re-opens on Sunday night with a tasty trio of ‘Unknown pleasures’.

Two relatively new Tamworth acts – The Searching and the Ferocious Apaches – will team up with enterprising Birmingham crew The Fillipinos for a happy hat-trick of modern sounds.

Topping the bill will be the latter who, if photographs and publicity material are anything to go by, ooze style. Their music is said to be hard-edged funk-tinged pop, the look is very definitely sharp and purposeful and the group themselves are happy to hang under the banner of motor-sonic dance floor music. Methinks they will be somewhat different from the average Ratholians.

Teaming up with these aspiring superstars are The Ferocious Apaches making their Tamworth, England and World debut all in one. The group packed full of humour, jollity and harbouring no chips-on-shoulders whatsoever, ply white noise pop and are made up of Mark, Rob, John and Bob. Whatever these guys tend to do does have a horribly fascinating appeal.

Completing the show are The Searching who still seem like a new band although they have actually been around for some 12 months or so. The outfit – made up of Steve Scott, Pete Williams, Mike Reid and Mark Chapman – describe their sound as original rock which has been linked with the likes of The Damned in the past and is said to be ‘very good to bop to’. The band have lined themselves up a very nice place in this year’s Tamworth Rock Festival so if you want a sneak preview of what you can expect, then get along on Sunday night.

The whole show should start at around 8pm on Sunday night, and a diverse night of pop ‘n’ roll is definitely in store.

Tamworth Herald – 14/08/87
Musicbox – Rathole explodes in real style.
THE RATHOLE proudly gives a platform to one of the most exciting new bands on the Indie Scene – on Sunday night – Blow Up.

Joining them on a fairly impressive bill are The Rosehips, Emma Gibbs loves Badges and The Ferocious Apaches. Rosehips are described by no less a mortal than Rob Cross as ‘fairly standard indie music’ but it is fairly standard indie music that has attracted considerable attention.

Also having attracted a lot of attention – most of it unfortunate – are the dual Tamworth Angels – Emma Gibbs loves badges and The Ferocious Apaches. To be honest I am not sure if both bands or a single mixture of the two will be playing as those boys talk so quickly all the time. Whatever the case, get ready for some MaryChainBunneymenIndieRock madness.

Tamworth Herald - 02/09/88
Musicbox – Six band show for new sensation seekers
Caption: Emma Gibbs…yes, they’re back.TAMWORTH Arts Centre tonight (Friday) stages a unique six-band show aimed at anyone who rejects the established town music scene and craves for something different.

Actually LIKE the local scene, it would be unfair of me to attempt to describe or dilute what the concert IS about so I will leave it up to Rob Cross and Mark Hynds to give you the details.

The floor is yours boys to SPOUT!

Hello Sam,

After this year’s Festival (undoubtedly the worst ever) it seems the Town’s music scene is slowly grinding to a halt with the same old people under different labels but none the less desperate for new ideas, decent tunes and above all enthusiasm.

In an attempt to remedy this we are organising a ‘sonic noise happening’. On September 2 at Tamworth Arts Centre, bringing together six groups who all share a similar attitude to music endorsing youth, enthusiasm and arrogance, and other important punk ideals which seem to have been forgotten in a fashionable haze of studded leather and spiky hair.

Six bands are involved including four making their first live appearance. The bands are:

Ruby Blaze: Young, enthusiastic rock noise, with a telling edge.

The Outside: Hard, satanic, fumbling guitar blast.

Flowers in the Attic: Hurtling guitar meets Velvets trash melodies.

The Eppies: Howling mad avant garde dirge trash scuze.

Emma Gibbs Loves Badges: True pop with arrogant appeal, something to make you think you saw God.

Ferocious Apaches: Sonic metals sub-catatonic soundheads.

The whole things starts at seven and costs just 50p, because there are six bands playing be early – first band on stage about 7.30. Also free magazine explaining the ideology behind the night and future hopes.

Could you please give this as much space as possible as it is the only new thing to happen in Tamworth for ages.

It’s a direct response to the apathy in the local music scene and all those people content to wait until the next festival and their fifteen minutes of ‘fame’ in the Castle Grounds.

Participate, organise, get involved or get out of the way.

Sonic love.

Mark and Rob

Tamworth Herald - 09/09/88
Musicbox – “I-I want to be, Anarchy!”
A sonic noise happening – Tamworth Arts Centre
FIFTY-pence to get in, a large crowd of like-minded people (me included), a seedy looking Arts Centre and a tiny vocal P.A. This is what we want. The first band, The Outside, were playing their first gig and cam from Yardley, Coventry and wait for it Sutton Coldfield, they town where you’re an anarchist if you’ve only got a six-bedroomed house. They were quite exciting.

Second band on stage were The Yogots, in my opinion the highlight of the evening. Another debut band, brought in at the last minute, their sound was different and new and single like ‘Wildlife’, ‘Mind Disease’ and ‘Chapel Street’ stood out from everything else. I don’t really think The Yogots fitted in perfectly with this ‘happening’. They played too well.

I couldn’t find out the name of the third band, but a suitable name would be ‘Black ****’…while the fourth band, I can’t remember their name which shows how forgettable they were.

And now, what should have been for me, the highlight, Emma Gibbs loves Badges. This was a real disappointment. Besides only doing two songs, this was ‘Emma Gibbs Go Folk’. I expected Lee Revelle to stick a finger in his ear, put on a pair of moccasins and start brewing apot of dandelion tea. He denied afterwards , but I can exclusively reveal, that Lee Revelle sings in an American accent, I was appalled.

And finally, Ferocious Apaches. The band were absolutely brilliant. For me they can’t do a thing wrong, their music is so full of youth, enthusiasm and arrogance and other important punk ideals, which seem to have been forgotten in a fashionable haze of studded leather and spiky hair. The anarchic aura that shines from them clearly proves that these are people who, even though they were only eight or nine years old at the time, were there in 1977.

As a postscript to the fine performance of the Ferocious Apaches, will Rob Cross have to get a new guitar and white polo neck jumper out of his Mum’s catalogue? (He actually changed into his stage gear before playing – anarchic or what!)

And as for Gavin Skinner, as nobody know who he is anyway, what’s the point of wearing a wig?

In conclusion, I am sure the members of the festival bands would be interested in knowing what their critics can do themselves. I went to this ‘happening’ with a totally open, unbiased mind as, although I am part of a festival band, I do regard the true ideals of punk as being paramount in one’s life. It encouraged me to see such a large audience of young enthusiastic people at the Arts Centre, but the bigoted, patronisingly aloof and arrogant attitude of certain people is frankly, embarrassing. It is true that the Tamworth music scene is not the most innovative, enlightening or radical scene there is, but enthusiasm cannot be labelled apathy, surely blanket criticism is more apathetic.

Tamworth Herald - 16/12/88
Musicbox – Placid house anyone?
Tamworth Arts Centre comes alive again on Thursday night when five local bands indulge in some ‘Placid House’ noises…

Established local faves Fetch Eddie, Emma Gibbs and the Ferocious Apaches will team up with new Indie boys Psychedelicatessen and debut-makers The Believers.

The gig which trades under the name of ‘The Placid House’ show has been put together by loveable Lee Revelle of Emma Gibbs who thinks that the show will have something for everyone.

For pure pop fans it will be your first chance in quite some time to catch Fetch Eddie, a band who have been gaining ever increasing radio and newspaper coverage and who are said to be far better these days now they have former Musical Youth drummer Brendon behind the skins. The band are keenly looking forward to this Christmas show and they are sure to go down a storm with their large army of local supporters from both Tamworth and Atherstone.

Emma Gibbs should also appeal to those pop-seekers. Their new atmosphere, though not quite one of wine and roses, is a lot more commercially orientated and their last demo was a cracker which ranked as one of the tapes of the year. They have discovered an all new pop senseability and when added to that essential Emma Gibbishness it will make them an interesting Christams spectacle. The Ferocious Apaches have also been added to the bill at the last moment and they (as you know) can be full of ‘fun’.

Joining these three on the bill are The Believers, a new band formed out of the embers of The Macoys and making their debut show. Sadly, rumours that they feature that almost legendary female singer Samantha Law have been denied but come Friday morning we may be a lot more knowledgeable about what this COMBO does have to offer.

Completing the Placid House collections are The Psychedelicatessen who made such an exciting appearance at the Arts Centre a few weeks ago. Their indie based sound is fast, loud and brash and leads to a host of differing comparisons – all I might add with pretty cool bands. They promise to be the hardest band of a pop-based line-up and their added aggression should give the show an extra ingredient.

With five bands of quality and other Christmas joys promised it should be a fun night out.

Don’t forget this show is on Thursday night (I know it’s a long tome until then but it will be worth the wait honest!) so destroy Thursday blues and enjoy a placid house Christmas cracker.


Tamworth Herald – 08/09/89
Tonight’s proposed Arts Centre Sonic Noise show is going ahead despite some confusion. It costs 99p, features (among others) the Herb Garden and the Ferocious Apaches and starts at 8pm. We apologise for the limited info but we were assured up to the last moment that the show was cancelled.

Tamworth Herald – 08/09/89
Musicbox – Gig Reviews
All Reviews by SAM HOLLIDAY
Ferocious Apaches – Tamworth Arts Centre
The last time I saw these (in the Big Muff guise) I complained that their set was too short and their plethora of good ideas weren’t given enough time to develop. This I think however was the opposite extreme because it seemed to go on longer than the Boer War. It also claimed just as many victims unfortunately because a large percentage of the crowd who were clearly enthralled by the start of the set started to drift bar-wise towards the end as the movie finished and the post-film credits seemed to outstay their welcome. That’s a shame because there is clearly much to appreciate in a set which for the most part reminded me of a band whose influence goes far wider than most people realise – PIL. That old luvverly ‘Metal box’ bass wobble was there in the controlled hysteria of the music and the guitar went on its own multi-directional tangent which created an image of sound that was almost as unnerving as the film being relayed behind the stage. If only they could find an ‘ideal time’ for their set this would be compelling stuff.

The Gallery

Ferocious Apaches

Ferocious Apaches
Line-up (left to right): Rob Cross (fuzz guitar from Amington Heath), John Hodgkiss (lead singer from Handsacre, Armitage), Mark Hynds (drums from Glascote), Bob (bass). Thanks to: John Hodgkiss

Rob Cross circa. 1987

Rob Cross circa. 1987

Bob and John

John Hodgkiss and Bob


John Hodgkiss


Mark Hynds

Rob and Mark

Rob Cross and Mark Hynds

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