5 new Bristol-based punk bands you need to know
Bristol has an eclectic music scene; from the world music venues of Gloucester Road, the drum and bass havens, to buzzing open mic nights. But Bristol’s punk scene is perhaps one that is deceptively strong (to anyone that isn’t a local, that is) as those in amongst it are fully aware of the potential surrounding them.
We spoke with Josh Jarman and Dan Anthony, owners of Bristol’s DIY label Breakfast Records about the landscape of the current scene:
Why does punk music thrive in Bristol?
Dan - “It’s forever hard to pin down exactly what’s going on in Bristol. The city is certainly at the vanguard of a lot of contemporary post-punk but there’s a myriad of other trad punk, metal, and hardcore scenes that currently don’t get the same time of day. A lot of the more punk-leaning bands we’ve put out recently, such as Frank & Beans, Twisted Ankle, and GORK are maybe on the weirder end of the spectrum, but Bristol has always been home to plenty of misfit musicians and is likely to stay that way in the near future.”
Josh - “I went to see Sham 69 at The Fleece a little while back and the crowd was made up almost entirely of old skinheads. Hundreds and hundreds of them. A testament to Bristol’s extensive punk history that there’s so many of the OGs kicking around. That chutzpah has dripped down through the generations, without a doubt. A lot is owed to the trailblazers.”
The rise of IDLES cannot go unmentioned when discussing Bristol punk as they're one of the most notable breakouts of this decade. Their success has opened a gateway into mainstream radio and their message has certainly echoed across the globe, as well as through the streets of Bristol. But by no means is the city now defined by it.
Josh - “One of the best things about Bristol is that all the artists are constantly feeding off each for inspiration. With artists like Giant Swan coming to the fore, it has such a big impact on the scope of people’s output. People are realising they can maybe do away with more traditional songwriting conventions and still create something that resonates with people in a big way.”
Dan - “It’s certainly hard to talk about punk in Bristol without mentioning a lot of obvious names. But I think often overlooked has been the influence of a lot of post-hardcore and noise on many artists, particularly looking back to the late 80’s and 90’s. Certainly there’s plenty of political fodder that still fuels musicians across the city but I think that’s always been the case.”
Independent venues really are the heart and soul of any scene and without them, local bands would struggle for outlets and places to thrive. There are some notable spots around Bristol that offer this platform.
Dan - “The general advance of late capitalism has already been putting a slow end to many great haunts (RIP Surrey Vaults). We can only give a big shout out to The Louisiana, Exchange, Old England, and Crofters Rights for keeping the good fight going.”
Josh - “Exchange and The Louis' have worked especially hard during the pandemic to keep supporting artists in whatever ways they can. They’ve proven themselves yet again to be invaluable for the city’s music scene. The promoters obviously deserve a shout out too. Without venues there’s no promoters but without promoters there’s no venues. Big up the hustlers like 1%, Deadpunk, Gravy Train, and Printhead. Can’t wait to get back in a sweaty venue with those lot.”
And what about the post-pandemic state?
Josh - “If the grass-roots music scene can survive the shitshow of late-stage capitalism, ecological breakdown, and Tory reign, it can survive anything.”
Amen. Here’s 5 Bristol bands to wet your whistle before the pits open back up:
Fronted by Danny Nedelko (immortalised in the IDLES song of the same name) and joined by drummer George Garratt, guitarist Oliver Southgate and bassist James Minchall, this four-piece create noise rock punk perfection.
An art-punk group formed in 2015, LICE were label mates with Heavy Lungs at IDLES' own Balley Records in the not-too-distant past.
Heavy AF, punk, and hardcore, they’re all about angst and social frustration.
Embracing the kookier side of punk, GORK don't take themselves too seriously with their presentation but the message is still clear beneath the silliness.
Bad News First
With Joe Talbot-esque vocals, it’ll be interesting to see where this brand new four-piece take their sound in the coming months.
If the gig gods stay on our side, also check out Breakfast Records’ annual mini-festival Breakfest, due to take place on September 11th at Thekla. For more info, click here.