The Folk Devils
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|The Folk Devils|
|Associated acts||King Blank, Ian Lowery Group, Ski Patrol|
|Past members||Ian Lowery
Founding member Ian Lowery had previously been the original singer in late 1970s punk rock band The Wall and then signed to Killing Joke's Malicious Damage label as leader of the group Ski Patrol. Politics and the general tensions that seemed endemic to the Killing Joke scene led Ian to leave Ski Patrol and recruit long-time friend of Jaz Coleman - Alan Cole on drums, Kris Jozajtis on guitar (now Dr Kris Jozajtis at Greenfaulds High School) and Mark Whiteley, from Wales, on bass to form another group, The Folk Devils, in 1983. Mark had been active in both the London and Welsh music scene. He worked with Anrhefn Wales' seminal punk band and with the ill fated Hack Hack on the album Despite Amputations. He left the band midway through a gig at The Fridge in Brixton unhappy with the band, their label (Shout Records), and musical direction. A fight ensued and Mark became a Folk Devil.
The sound was a bastardised blend of punk, blues, and amphetamine fuelled angst with the music often walking a fine line between a patchwork of brilliant musicianship and violence. The political and ideological canvass for the Folk Devils was the miners strike, Thatcher's Britain, mass unemployment and the flooding of Britains street with heroin and despair. Both Mark and Ray Gange were to become deeply, almost fatally, involved in the early 80s drug scene.
Initially managed by Ray Gange, star of The Clash's film Rude Boy, the Folk Devils first single "Hank Turns Blue" recorded for £180 (allegedly the bands combined dole money) and released on the label Ganges Records and distributed through Rough Trade resided at number three in the indie charts for six weeks being kept off the top spot only by New Order and Depeche Mode.
Three Peel sessions followed in quick succession. Subsequent recordings were critically acclaimed and musical luminaries such as Jason Pierce of Spiritualized still regard the Folk Devils as a highly influential musical force. Having recorded the Beautiful Monster E.P. (their final release on Ganges Records) in 1985 with 'punk' producer and IRS stalwart Richard Mazda and the 1986 Fire and Chrome EP which was well received throughout Europe, drug and alcohol use finally caused the band to disintegrate as their first and only album Goodnight Irony was finally released by Situation Two. The Folk Devils, as Brian Taylor of Killing Joke's management said at the time, "were a force of nature live and were never quite able to capture that ferocity on record". Ian Lowery died in 2001 having continued to work throughout the late 80s and early 90s the with Nigel Pulsford of Bush on the King Blank project and the Ian Lowery Group. Mark Whiteley went on to work with a variety of bands including Shredder (1994), Big Black Cloud (1995–1997) and Subliminal (1997–2001). Shredder were formed in Dartmoor prison in 1993 and on Mark's release in 1994 were invited to tour with The Stranglers.
Mark's involvement with heroin led to several years of "absolute bloody madness". The final act being an arrest for the robbery of a chemist in 1991. He was convicted and sent to prison for five years.
On his release the Shredder project put him back in touch with the music scene, although short lived, Shredder performed at Wembley and the Albert Hall. Alongside his musical forays he found himself working at the BBC on two series: Prison Weekly and Private Investigations. In the latter Mark was involved in an investigation into the death of his friend Dennis Stevens, who died in Dartmoor prison in October 1995 whilst being restrained by officers. This case led Mark into the world of journalism.
In 2001, following Ian's death and three years of studio work with the Subliminal Project, Mark decided to change direction and curtail his substance use. Like Kris, Mark pursued an academic career and is now a criminological researcher and tutor at Cardiff University. He is working on a study on heroin use in Wales and is a regular contributor to debates on TV and radio. In May 2009 he worked with the BBC on a Week In Week Out documentary exploring the heroin scene in Wales with John Cale.
- "Hank Turns Blue" (1984) Ganges (#9)
- "Beautiful Monster" (1984) Ganges (#4)
- Fire & Chrome EP (1985) Karbon (#10)
- "It Drags On" (1985) (withdrawn)
- "The Best Protection" (1987) Situation 2 (#22)
- Goodnight Irony (1987) Situation 2
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) "Ian Lowery", in The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0
- The Folk Devils at the BBC's Keeping It Peel site
- Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980-1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4