Tamworth Bands - History 1960-1990


Photograph courtesy: Steve Ellis
The Gallery

Musical Genre/Type: High-Tech Thrash
Formed: 1986

Band Members:
Rikk Quay - Keyboards/Vocals
Zakk Zerox - Guitar/Vocals

Tamworth Rock Festival
Castle Grounds
Soil Brothers
One On One
Catch 22
The Magnets

Pop Will Eat Itself
Fairweather Friends

The Rathole

Tamworth Herald Features

Tamworth Herald – 23/05/86
Musicbox – GOSSIPBOX
All tripped up with the new bands galore
CERTAIN countries, it seems are in the grips of ‘baby booms’ at the moment – Tamworth meanwhile is suffering from ‘musicians boom’. You can’t go to the toilet in the town now without tripping over a brand new band, all beginning their first tentative steps to world megastardom.

In the last few weeks alone we have heard of The Green Swings, Shellshock, Attica, XPD, Duel, Gargoyle Brothers, Break The Daisy Chain, Magic Carrots and so on and so on.

There are musicians everywhere all talking guitars and concerts and all displaying the sort of genuine enthusiasm…Long may it continue. But let’s not forget the oldies but goldies.

Wolfsbane have been in touch to say that contrary to certain malicious gossip, they are still very much with us and as loud, glammy and determined as ever. They also point out that for their dress-rehearsal for ‘The Dome’ concert, they are expected to dress according to normal nightclub standards.

The problem is, they haven’t got anything that could possibly be called ‘nightclubby’.

Another oldies getting even older is Breaking Point whose excellent show at the Tavern last week showed that Kevin Briggs has been listening to rather a lot of Jimi Hendrix of later. Our Kevin went on his own magical mystery tour with his guitar, turning out some incredibly tense moments of neo-psychedelia that had many Tavernites in suspense. All very jolly.

Still on the Tavern, their legendary DJ Buttercup is playing a special charity soccer match on Sunday morning as goalkeeper.

Another exciting episode in the Rikk Quay story, is also underway. I am delighted to hear that his work with John Reeman is going very well indeed and their creation, XPD is on course to be an English cross between the B-52s and The Ramones. However, good they are though, I think we can do without that silly hat Mr. Quay.

Still on XPD, did you know that John Reeman once supported both Tears for Fears and The Thompson Twins when he was just a shallow youth?

Did you also know that the Classified Ads will be playing a special concert . There is just so much going on at the moment it is hard to catch your breath. I haven’t been able to play my Marillion albums for AGES!

Tamworth Herald – 30/05/86
Musicbox - Bands called to meeting
ALL THE bands involved in the Tamworth Bank Holiday Festival are reminded that Sunday night is pay night!

A full meeting will be held for all the bands involved in both the indoor and outdoor sections of the concert and all those playing in the Castle grounds will be required to pay their ‘entry fee’ on Sunday.

Al the moment the line up for the main two days is like this: Sunday (in order of appearance): Candle Dance, Spirit Lake, Kara, Soil Brothers, One On One, The Parade, XPD, The Magnets. Monday (in order of appearance): Burnin’ Sky, Beyond Elysium, Caprice, Breaking Point, Dance Stance, Wolfsbane, Depth Charge, orange, Femme Fatale. As a reminder every musician in the above 18 bands is required to pay a £6 levy and anyone that hasn’t got the will or the means to pay on the night had better bring a good lawyer!

In addition to the main two days bands such as Shellshock, The Green Swings, The Cradle, Side Effect and The Magic Carrots have been confirmed for the days at the Arts Centre, promising perhaps the most varied festival line up yet.

The meeting takes place at 8pm on Sunday at The Tavern anyone other than band members who wants to get involved in the festival is welcome to attend.

Tamworth Herald – 13/06/86
Musicbox – Seeing is believing
DURAN DURAN look out! This week I can report that Birmingham’s megastars are under challenge from two new Tamworth bands.

First is XPD who have just had the sort of trendy haircuts that would make Simon Le Bon turn into a skinhead.

According to Rikk Quay the band are going to be more outrageous than Sigue Sigue Sputnik but it strikes me that John Reeman’s hair is about as outrageous as ‘Play Away’.

Second threat to Duran Duran comes from two ex-Cradles. The grim Twins According to Murray ‘Look I don’t like heavy metal and all that rubbish so stop saying I do’ Pickett.

Tamworth Herald – 20/06/86
Musicbox – SNIPS
A fine festival line-up

THE final line-up for the Tamworth Bank Holiday Rock Festival in the Castle Grounds has now been worked out. After the splits of Femme Fatale, The Parade and Spirit Lake. The Green Swings, Shellshock and the wonderful Royal Family have stepped in to make the final line-up:

Sunday – 12.30, CandleDance; 1.05pm, Green Swings; 1.40pm, Shellshock; 2.15pm, Soil Brothers; 2.50pm, One On One; 3.25, Kara; 4.00pm, XPD; 4.35pm, Catch 22 and headlining at 5.10pm, The Magnets. Then on Monday it’s: 12.30pm, Burnin’ Sky; 1.05pm, Beyond Elysium; 1.40pm, Cuddly Spiders; 2.15pm, Breaking Point; 2.50pm, Wolfsbane; 3.25pm, Dance Stance; 4.00pm, Depth Charge; 4.35pm, Orange and headlining at 5.10pm, The Royal Family. The pre-festival Arts Centre line-ups are still uncertain but Ivory, Side Effect and Cradle are among those who should be involved. Official festival t-shirts (which are likely to cause a fair bit of controversy should be available soon.

Tamworth Herald – 20/06/86
Musicbox – SNIPS
XPD guitarist John Reeman has decided on his new stage name – Zakk Zerox. The band are now eagerly awaiting their live debut while John – sorry Zakk – is planning on getting together a punk rock anniversary concert in December to celebrate the ten years since the release of the immortal ‘Anarchy in the UK’.

Tamworth Herald – 01/08/86
Musicbox – Gossipbox
Things certainly seem to have been happening in my absence with both XPD and One On One recording new demos. The XPD one really is something special and sounds to me like Sigue Mary Chain – in a disgustingly tuneful barrage of Noise. Great stuff.

Also planning to hit the studio soon are new Rock Festival recruits Attica who have lined up a pre-festival Rathole date and have also recently had a strange photo session on an unopened part of the M42. According to singer Eddie Madden, the whole thing was very eerie but if you are planning something similar, Musicbox has just one piece of advice – make sure the road you’re being photographed on IS unopened!

Talking of photographs and things, someone told me recently that King recorded their video for ‘Love and Pride’ somewhere around the Kingsbury/Alvecote area. Anyone shed any light on that? It wouldn’t be the first time we have been on video.

Anyone who has seen the Geno video (that’s by Dexy’s for the under 12’s) will see that there is a split second shot of a bus going to Tamworth on it. Now that’s real fame!

Still on fame, it seems That Drayton Bassett’s premier citizen Julian Cope is lining up a short tour in the near future. If he’s looking for any good low-key warm up dates, can I tactfully suggest The Rathole?

That really would be a justifiable reward for your passionate fans around here Mr. Cope.

Tamworth Herald – 15/08/86
Musicbox – Countdown to a wild weekend
EXCITEMENT for this year’s Tamworth Rock Festival is now reaching fever pitch.

With just one week and all the pre-festival problems cleared up, more than twenty bands are now putting the finishing touches to the sets they will be delivering over the four days of the festival fun.

Once again the festival has been divided into tow distinct halves – inside and outside. The inside will see two nights at the Arts Centre next Friday and Saturday, and then an alternative disco party at the Rathole on Bank Holiday Monday night. And once again the outside section will bring together 18 bands over Sunday and Monday all playing in the Tamworth Castle Grounds for free.

This is basically how the festival will look:

Tamworth Arts Centre will play host to a triple bill of music headlined by metal favourites Wolfsbane. Joining them will be Shellshock and possibly Lichfield group Ivory. The final line-up should be announced next week.

Breaking Point will headline the second festival party night at the Arts Centre with new alternative band Thirteenth Reunion in support. Another group will be added to the line-up this week.

All attention switches to the Castle Grounds where once again the bands will play on front of the main tennis courts area. The festival starts at about 11.445 with a disco and the first band The Pink Tomatoes follow at 12.30. The rest of the line-up (who should follow at 35 minute intervals) is Attica, Shellshock, Soil Brothers, One On One, Kara, XPD, Catch 22 and finally The Magnets. It should all finish between 6.25 and 7pm.

Once again the disco starts the day off and leads into the first band Burnin’ Sky who will be on stage at 12.30. They will then be followed by Beyond Elysium, Cuddly Spiders, Breaking Point, Dance Stance, Wolfsbane, Depth Charge, Orange and finally The Royal Family.

Then at about 8.30pm on Monday all attention switched to the Rathole for s special alternative disco party night with Paul Clements. The disco is designed as a post festival party for all the musicians to enjoy, but will be open to everyone to make for a late-night treat.

All in all it makes for the best festival line-up yet – and certainly the most varied. Metal, alternative, skiffle, pop, r ‘n’ b and many more styles are covered, so there really is something fro everyone. So forget what you may have heard elsewhere the festival is on and the spirit among the town’s musicians is as good as ever. Cancel all your plans and get ready for four days of fun!

PS if anyone knows a cure for rain please give me a ring!


Tamworth Herald – 22/08/86
Musicbox – Here’s the fabulous festival line-up
TAMWORTH’S fourth annual Bank holiday rock festival blazes into action this weekend and promises to be the biggest and best the Town has ever seen.

Eighteen bands will take to the Castle Grounds stage on Sunday and Monday offering a varied and exciting package of local talent.

And, to give the festival the best possible start, Tamworth Arts Centre will tonight (Friday) and tomorrow stage two festival party nights featuring among others Wolfsbane, Breaking Point and a one-off show from Love On Board.

All in all it looks like being a festival to remember and here in full details is what is happening where and when.


The festival starts with an Arts Centre triple bill featuring three bands from the heavier side of life. New boys Shellshock will join up with not-so-new boys Kara and positively-old boys Wolfsbane for a sparkling three band show. As with last years, the Arts Centre pre-festival nights are designed to be party-style events and everyone petting into the spirit (and spirits) of the weekend. It starts at 8pm costs 50p and should be excellent.


ANOTHER enticing triple bill will especially interest people of an alternative (sic) persuasion. Breaking Point, who hope to have their debut single out this week, will headline the show and in support will be two unusual acts. First is 13th Reunion featuring the immortal Gerald on bass and second is Love On Board making a special one-off comeback gig to join in the party atmosphere. It adds up to a superb bill which marks the debut show for 13th Reunion, and once again is a meagre – nay, measly! – 50p


AND SO to the main event. Two days of exciting, varied rock music in the Castle Grounds. Once again the stage will be set up in front of the tennis courts at the far end of the Castle Grounds, and as with the past couple of years, it will cost you nothing to watch. Here is a quick one-line description of all the bands on show and their (approximate) appearance times…


Freefall (12.20) A Coventry heavy band (that’s all I know!)

Attica (1.05) Powerful bass-driven combo who crimp their hair and slice their guitars.

Shellshock (1.40) Young lusty metal sound, who smile a lot.

Soil Brothers (2.15) Skiffle-style pop played with coconuts, cardboard and oodles of enthusiasm.

One On One (2.50) Nose-perfect rock music played by soon-to-be superstars.


Kara (3.25) loud Americanised noises played by local Anglicised noise-makers.

XPD (4.00) Stylish alternative pop music, which cab be summed up as ‘ego-shock’ rock.

Catch 23 (4.35) Pure-punk-period pop music with panache, power and passion.

The Magnets (5.10) Modern synthesised pop music played by modern synthesised pop people.


ONCE MORE the Castle Grounds plays host to nine more varied outfits who line up like this.

Burnin’ Sky (12.30) Coleshill-based r ‘n’ b band who revel in the smoky, sleazy way of life.

Beyond Elysium (1.05) Dark sombre sounds with a modern appeal and feel.


Cuddly Spiders (1.40) Laid-back harmless flares rock.

Breaking Point (2.15) Passion-packed soaring, roaring rock music.

Dance Stance (2.50) Tight, funky nouveau-pop with a burning soul.

Wolfsbane (3.25) Gentle, middle of the road folk band made up of four charmingly polite young boys. A mud afternoon break from all this rock nonsense.

Depth Charge (4.00) Cuddly rock and roll pirates bursting with good times.

Orange (4.35) Deceptively light pop music with a telling edge. Bright, breezy, orangey.

The Royal Family (5.10) regal r ‘n’ b with guaranteed dance-ability and toe-tapping tendencies.

Tamworth Herald – 05/09/86
Musicbox – bombs away for a high-tech thrash
XPDTHE RATHOLE stages yet another of its tasty triple bills on Sunday – spearheaded by fanzine favourites Pop Will Eat Itself.

The group, who are part of the new legion of Buzzcocks-loving aggressive top bands, will be supported by Lichfield’s Fairweather Friends and our very own high-tech madmen XPD.

It is a night which the Rathole believe will be one of their very best yet and the name ‘Pop Will Eat Itself’ has already sent a buzz around the town’s new, new wave fans.

Their music is said to have its basis in the new jangle-pop sound so adored by a new young breed of Peelites although I am assured by old punk hippy Paul Clements that the group has an edge which should attract those who walk on the wilder side of life.

And, if you are on the wilder side of life, then you won’t be able to resist support act, XPD. Already, after just one show, they have become the band you love to hate, and judging by the exclamations of disbelief that greeted their Castle Grounds set, they should at least draw a reaction.

“That’s exactly what we want,” said XPDian Rikk Quay, “We just cannot be ignored and we prefer a reaction one way or another because at least it shows people are listening.”

XPD describe their sound as ‘high-tech thrash’ which about sums up their subtle mixture of vile punk rock and vile Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I am already a convert and as ‘Bombs Away’ was THE song of the festival, I will especially look forward to that climactic, confused chord-chaos at the end of the set.

Finally, completing the line-up are Lichfield act Fairweather Friends, a group who are well-thought of in their native town. I know very little about them other than they play fast, entertaining, pop music which should fit in very well with the general tone of the evening.

So a good night in prospect and anyone who doesn’t attend will have to answer to Messrs. Quay and Reeman armed with hair spray, studded belts and very, very prickly hair.

Tamworth Herald – 12/09/86
Musicbox – Pop Will Eat Itself/Fairweather Friends/XPD – the Rathole
WELL…what a let down. Here were Pop Will Eat Itself, one of the brightest names on the new pop circuit, a band who came with glowing references and much hyperbole. And in reality they are as exciting as a game of ludo with your granddad.

Where I was expecting second-rate punk rock, I heard fourth-rate punk rock from a band who simply went through the motions to produce a short- lack-lustre set. They also had long, Dylanesque hair (never trust a hippy member) had the audacity to cast aspersions on the mighty Mary Chain and seemed to have no respect whatsoever for the people who had paid to see them.

If this is the dawning of a new pop age, you can count me out. They were simply dull!

The Fairweather Friends from Lichfield were a lot better, even though their sound lacked definition and seemed to fall between different stools.

One or two of the more fiery members were particularly impressive and their enthusiasm shows that they are well worth a return visit to the Rathole. And so to XPD. I heard so many bad comments about what XPD were doing, that it seems they have a credibility problem with particularly the younger alternative types who fill the Rathole.

Personally, however, they were far the best thing on the night for me. OK, the sound was dodgy and the eye make-up truly horrific but behind it all, XPD have more verve, power and tingle-ability than anything else on offer on the night.

I think XPD are great. They take risks, they aren’t scared to go over the top and as for style, they flaunt it. Their time will come.

The Gallery


Photograph courtesy: Steve Ellis

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