Icons of Filth
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Icons of Filth
|Origin||Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales|
H. Unky Punky
Icons of Filth are an influential Welsh anarcho-punk band that were formed in 1979 and who campaigned via their lyrical content and their support to various causes to effect positive social, political and environmental change. The issues the band promoted included animal rights, anarchism, environmentalism, anti war, vegetarianism, veganism, antiglobalisation, feminism and the negative effects of organised religion.
Members of the band were involved with various campaign groups such as The Direct Action Movement, Hunt Saboteurs, Animal Liberation Front, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), London Greenpeace, Peace Pledge Union and gave support to the women campaigning at Greenham Common cruise missile base. Live shows were often used to raise money for these causes and also others including Rock Against Racism and the UK miners' strike (1984–85).
Due to the anti-establishment stance of the band many shows were banned by local authorities across the UK and gigs attracted a heavy Police presence often in full riot gear. Various far right groups also attempted to disrupt the band playing, and many shows were marred by violence from right wing skinheads.
'Icons of Filth' started life as Mock Death in Cardiff in 1979 with Aitch on drums, Daffy on guitar, Socket on bass and Fran and Tina sharing vocal duties. After several gigs in the local area, Mock Death called it a day after one year.
'Atomic Filth' formed shortly afterwards with Socket (Tony Watts), Daffy (Simon DeManuel) and Aitch (Mark Wilson) from Mock Death and Stig (Andrew Sewell) on vocals. Within a year the name had been changed to Icons of Filth and Socket had left to be replaced on bass by Ed. After gigging extensively, the cassette LP "Not On Her Majesty's Service" was recorded in September 1982 by Pete Fender at Xntrix Studios, becoming the first release on Conflict's Mortarhate label (Mortarhate M1). This first release showcases Stig's intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics, which are lined up as a full-frontal attack on those in positions of authority. This was followed up by the May 1983 recording "Used · Abused · Unamused" which was released as a 7" EP on Corpus Christi Records. Ed left after this to be replaced by Fish (Richard Edwards) on bass. In December 1983, Onward Christian Soldiers was recorded and released the following March on Mortarhate records. This LP featured a strong animal rights theme. After extensively gigging during 1984, usually with Conflict, the "Brain Death" 7" EP was recorded in October 1984. This was followed in April 1985 by the "Filth & the Fury" EP.
Icons of Filth may have been as well known for their record sleeve artwork as they were for their music. Most of the artwork, which was rather intricate and quite dark in tone, was drawn by Squeal who also invented the "scratchy" calligraphy that has since been used by many bands and artists.
After a long hiatus 'Icons of Filth' reformed with the original recording line-up (Stig, Aitch, Daffy and Ed) and in 2001 recorded "Nostradamnedus" for Go-Kart records. Pete from Spite/In The Shit joined as a second guitarist and Icons of Filth started gigging extensively again, doing 2 tours of the U.S., played a festival in Slovenia and many gigs in the UK, most of which were benefits for various causes.
Death of Stig
While playing at a squat gig in Hackney, London on October 23, 2004 Stig complained of feeling unwell. He died abruptly of a heart attack shortly afterwards. The band played two benefit gigs for Stig's children in London and LA, after which they decided to disband indefinitely. They recently reformed for two gigs in Cardiff for the ten year commemoration of Stig's death, on the 14/15 November 2015, and played alongside both of Stig's son's bands.
After this tragic event members of the band continued to have involvement in work and organisations to effect positive social change but Icons of Filth rarely played, other than coming together for significant occasions and to raise money for various causes. On these occasions the band featured vocalists standing in on a temporary basis.
After a concert arranged to mark the anniversary of Stig's passing in 2014 band members once again decided to reform. The being heavily motivated by their commitment to contribute to the movement to effect positive change and to seek to raise ethical, social, political and environmental issues. The band are now working with a new singer who is a permanent addition, and are due to release a new album in 2017 and have been playing various live dates in the UK and Europe.
Influence and Imagery
Various artists and bands have cited Icons of Filth as having been influential on their sounds and politics. Similarly the band's logo and imagery has been used in a variety of places.
In the video "Opulence" Candy Brooke wears a jacket with the Icons of Filth logo on the arm along with the lyrics to "Death is the Only Release".
- Not On Her Majesty's Service (1982), Mortarhate
- Onward Christian Soldiers (1984), Mortarhate - UK Indie No. 7
- Nostradamnedus (2002), Go-Kart
- The Mortarhate Projects (1995), Mortarhate
- Used, Abused, Unamused (1983), Corpus Christi - UK Indie No. 20
- Brain Death (1984), Mortarhate - UK Indie No. 3
- The Filth and the Fury (1985), Mortarhate - UK Indie No. 9
- Show Us You Care (1999), BBP