Anti-Nowhere League

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Anti-Nowhere League
Anti-Nowhere League performing in 2007
Anti-Nowhere League performing in 2007
Background information
OriginRoyal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Years active1980–1989, 1992–present
Tommy H

Anti-Nowhere League are an English punk rock band, formed in 1979 by lead singer Animal (Nick Culmer), guitarist Magoo (Chris Exall), Bones (Tony Shaw) on drums and Chris Elvy on bass.


Early days[edit]

Their first gig was as a three piece at the 1980 Chaos Show at St Mark's Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells on 31 March 1980. They later managed to get a slot in Discharge and The Exploited's Apocalypse tour, along with Chron Gen and Anti-Pasti. Chris Elvy was replaced by Clive Blake (Winston) and Bones (Tony Shaw) was replaced by PJ.. Persian John as they moved towards going pro. This led to them signing to John Curd's record label WXYZ Records, with Curd and Chris Gabrin co-managing the band. Later that year they opened for The Damned on a short tour round the north of England and Scotland plus a hastily arranged one-off gig at the Lyceum Ballroom where The Damned stepped in for Stiff Little Fingers.

November 1981 saw the release of their first single, a cover version of Ralph McTell's "Streets of London". The single peaked at No. 48 in the UK Singles Chart and spent five weeks in the listings.[5] The profanity-laden B-side of the single, "So What" later became the group's anthem. Copies of this single were seized from indie distributor Pinnacle by the Metropolitan Police's Obscene Publication Squad shortly after release.[6] "So What?" was covered by Metallica, being released as a B-side to the "Sad But True" single in 1993, and later included on the Garage Inc. album; "So What?" would go on to become an in-concert standard for Metallica.

In 1982, ANL took part in the 'So What Tour' alongside groups such as Chelsea, The Meteors, Chron Gen and The Defects. This year also saw the release of their debut album, We Are...The League.[6] It reached No. 24 in the UK Albums Chart, and spent eleven weeks in the chart.[5] The UK Subs and Anti-Nowhere League toured the US and hit the West Coast of California in March 1982 and down to Reseda Country Club outside of Los Angeles and on down to San Diego.

Gilly (real name Mark Gilham) joined the band in 1982 as an extra guitarist. The band went to Yugoslavia to record a live album, called Live In Yugoslavia,[6] but this was dogged by problems with the authorities insisting that references that Animal had made about the recently deceased president Josip Broz Tito be removed from the master tapes.[citation needed] The live album spent one week at No. 88 in the UK Albums Chart.[5]

1984 to 1989[edit]

In 1984, PJ left the band, and they became musically inactive. 1985 saw Michael Bettell join on drums, followed in 1986 by JB (Jonathan Birch). During this time they signed for GWR Records, and recorded The Perfect Crime album.[6]

In 1987, Anti-Nowhere League disbanded. However, there was a belated 'farewell' show at the Victoria Hall in Tunbridge Wells, in 1989, which was recorded and can be heard on their live album, Live Animals.[6]


In 1992, Animal was told by JB that Metallica wanted him to guest at Wembley Arena, when they did their cover version of "So What". Animal put it thus on ANL's website. "As I waited on the edge of the stage waiting to go on it suddenly dawned on me I was just about to stand in front of 10,000 punters who didn’t know me from Adam and sing a song that I couldn’t fucking remember; all that kept running through my head was RUN you silly old fucker!".[7] However, after the 25 October show, Mark joined that year on lead guitar, and 1993–1995 was spent playing gigs in the small venues the band had started out in.

Michael Bettell died in September 2003, aged 41, from a brain tumour.[8]

In 1996, they signed up with Impact Records and recorded their next EP Pig Iron. Beef also joined the band. Further personnel changes occurred in 1997 when Winston left the band to be replaced by Jon Jon, and the recording of the album Scum. Winston Blake returned to his former occupation of a roofer and leadworker and lives in East Sussex. Danny joined on drums in 1998, and the album Out of Control was released a year later in 1999.

In 2001, Magoo quit the band.


Jon Jon, Beef and Danny left the band, to be replaced by PJ (original drummer), Jez on guitar and Shady on bass. This line-up released the band's fifth studio album, Kings and Queens in 2005, which was released on the Captain Oi! record label. However, there were arguments over the omission of two songs from that album, "The Day The World Turned Gay" and "The Adventures Of Peter Vile". Lawyers for Captain Oi! refused to sanction the release of these two songs because of fear of litigation, so Nick (Animal) eventually relented and let the album be released with the two disputed songs omitted.[citation needed]

In 2006, the band set up their own independent record label, Nowhere Records; with Pig Iron - The Album being the first release in August 2006.[9] The album included the two songs omitted from the Kings and Queens album, as well as "Landlord", taken from the Out Of Control album. The same year, the Anti-Nowhere League undertook a twenty nine date UK tour, and PJ left the band after the Glasgow gig in October 2006. His replacement was Dave Hazlewood (Nato), from the small Kent town of Cranbrook, who had filled in before on tours. On 8 November 2006, the ANL began a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand. On 26 October, the band joined Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69 and The Damned for the Academy in the UK 2006: 30th Anniversary of Punk gig at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.

The Anti-Nowhere League supported Rancid at their Leeds gig on 8 November 2008. In December 2008, Jez was replaced on lead guitar by Johhny Skullknuckles. The League continued to tour and record, and now promote their new songs with videos. After a mini European tour in late spring 2009, they embarked on an American tour in June and July 2009, before appearing at the Punk Rebellion festival in Blackpool. After touring Germany and the Netherlands in early May 2010, the band and Johhny Skullknuckles parted company and Tommy H (Tom Hunt) was drafted in on guitar.

In 2011, the band recorded the "This Is War" single, and accompanying video, which was followed by a tour with the UK Subs supporting Motörhead on a number of UK dates. At the 2012 Download Festival, the band appeared on the Pepsi Max stage hours before Metallica filled the main stage as headliners.

During the later months of 2015 writing began for the album The Cage, the first fresh studio album since Rampton. During this time, drummer Dave 'Nato' Hazlewood left the band. 'The Cage album saw another slight change in direction, with a heavier, and more direct sound.[citation needed] It was released by Cleopatra Records in 2016.

2017 saw the band record and release a collection of classic reggae covers under the title League Style, Loosen Up Vol I.


Studio albums[edit]

Title Date of release
We Are…The League 1982
The Perfect Crime 1987
Scum 1997
Kings and Queens 2005
The Road to Rampton 2007
We Are...The League...Un-cut 2014
The Cage 2016
League Style 2017

Singles and EPs[edit]

Title Date of release
"Streets of London" 1981
"Anti-Nowhere League EP" 1981
"I Hate... People" 1982
"Woman" 1982
"World War III" 1982
"For You" 1982
"Out on the Wasteland" 1984
"Crime" 1987
"Fuck Around the Clock" 1989
"Pig Iron EP" 1996

Live albums[edit]

Title Date of release Notes
Live in Yugoslavia 1983
Live and Loud 1989 Recorded at the reunion gig
The Horse Is Dead 1996 Later re-released as part of the Anthology and as Live: So What?
Return to Yugoslavia 1998
Live: So What? 1999 Re-release of The Horse Is Dead
Live Animals 2002 Combined most of Live In Yugoslavia and Live and Loud

Compilations and DVDs[edit]

Title Date of release Notes
Long Live the League 1985 Combined tracks from Live in Yugoslavia with tracks from We Are... The League with several other rare tracks
Best of the Anti-Nowhere League 1992 Contained the full 12" of "Out On The Wasteland" and four missing Live In Yugoslavia tracks.
Complete Singles Collection 1995 Is a reissue of all 7/12 inch EPs until 1995
Anti Nowhere League – Anthology 1999 2 disc CD. Second CD contained the entire album Live and Loud
So What 2000 Contained unreleased versions of "Woman" and studio version of "Noddy"
Out of Control 2000 Contains demos recorded before the We Are...The League
Punk Singles and Rarities 1981 – 1984 2001 Contained tracks from Apocalypse Punk Tour 81, as well as singles and demos of famous League songs
Pig Iron – The Album 2006 Contains a newly remastered copy of their Scum album along with their Pig Iron EP and three new tracks
So What?: Early Demos and Live Abuse 2006 Combined the live album The Horse is Dead with the studio album Out of Control
Hell for Leather 2008 Secret Records DVD from The Pitz Milton Keynes


  • Robert Pattison, The Triumph of Vulgarity: Rock Music in the Mirror of Romanticism, 1987, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-503876-2


  1. ^ "Anti-Nowhere League - "League Style"". ReadJunk. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Hardcore punk band in a league of their own". Cumberland & Westmorland Herald. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ DISTEFANO, ALEX (16 May 2014). "TSOL and Anti-Nowhere League – The Observatory – May 16, 2014". OC Weekly.
  4. ^ Mark Deming "Anti-Nowhere League - Discography"|AllMusic, Retrieved Oct. 30, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 26. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 47. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  7. ^ McPadden, Mike (1 May 2012). "Seek and Destroy: Punk, Hardcore, and Industrial". If You Like Metallica... Backbeat Books. pp. 58–59. ISBN 9781476813578.
  8. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2003 July to December". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on 12 October 2006.

External links[edit]