Ski Patrol (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Formed from the ashes of two Sunderland, UK college bands, The Wall and The Debutantes, Ski Patrol was hatched by singer Ian Lowery and guitarist Nick Clift in Brixton, London in the Autumn of 1979. Inspired by the darkwave and punk-funk sounds and emotions of British post-punk bands like Joy Division, Gang Of Four, A Certain Ratio. They were also influenced by the Jamaican rhythms and politically charged environment that was their new home, the band set about writing angular, moody songs that fused Lowery's dark lyrical pre-occupations with Clift's ringing, textured guitar chord phrasing. Joined by fellow North-Eastern transplants Peter Balmer on bass and drummer Bruce Archibald, the band began playing shows on the London live circuit opening for The Carpettes. By December, they had recorded four songs at Alaska Studios in Waterloo, two of which became their first singles. "Everything Is Temporary" b/w "Silent Scream" was released in March 1980 on their own Clever Metal label with help from super-indie Rough Trade. Features in fanzines like Allied Propaganda, Panache, ZigZag and No Class followed. They quickly gained a regular audience at legendary venues like The Rock Garden in the West End and The Moonlight Club in West Hampstead.

In early 1980, Archibald quit the band and was replaced by Alan Cole. More shows followed, and soon enough, Lowery's often explosive onstage presence and the band's newly found confidence and angular songwriting had captured the attention of Malicious Damage, a label and management operation in West London that had already released music by Killing Joke and Red Beat. In June 1980, this new partnership produced the second single "Agent Orange" b/w "Driving". Largely inspired by the film 'Apocalypse Now', Lowery's lyrics referenced the defoliant used in the Vietnam War and the song itself was built around a pulsing 3-note bassline, guitar harmonics and a metronomic beat. Synthesizer atmospherics on the track were provided by Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman. The single was released later in 1980 and became their best known song.

In 1981, Peter Balmer had left to join Fad Gadget and was replaced by bassist Francis Cook. The band set about recording their one and only session for the BBC's John Peel show. Three tracks "Cut", "Extinguish" and "Where The Buffalo Roam" were broadcast on 19 January and repeated again later that year.[1] A third and final single "Cut" b/w "Faith in Transition" was released on Malicious Damage in early Summer. The band's final recording session, in April 1981, with engineer Mark Lusardi yielded three new songs: "Version Of A Life", "Extinguish" and "Concrete Eternal", none of which were ever commercially released, as the band finally fell apart in August. Ian Lowery went on to form Folk Devils, while Nick Clift went to work for Rough Trade. Clift and Lowery re-united briefly in the second incarnation of Folk Devils in 1986, recording the EP "The Best Protection" for Beggars Banquet's Situation 2 label.


  1. ^ "BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 19/01/1981 Ski Patrol". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2013.