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The band in 2013 (l-r): Luca Comencini, Spizz, Ben Lawson, Jeff Walker, Phil Ross
|Also known as||Athletico Spizz 80|
|Genres||Punk rock, new wave|
|Years active||1979–1982 , 1987 –1988 , 2007 –present|
|Labels||Rough Trade Records;|
|Associated acts||Spizz 77; Spizz Oil; Spizz and the Astronauties|
|Past members||Pete Petrol|
Brian B. Benzine (real name Bryn Burrows)
Spizzenergi is an English punk/new wave band led by vocalist/guitarist Spizz (real name Kenneth Spiers). Formed in the late 1970s, the band changed its name every year, subsequent names including Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzoil and The Spizzles.
They are notable as the first band to top the newly created UK Indie Chart early in 1980 with the single "Where's Captain Kirk?" More than two decades after its release, it was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
Spizz's early years / Spizzoil
Spizz attended Arden School, Knowle, near Solihull, a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, and was inspired by the burgeoning punk rock movement. After a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig at Barbarella's in Birmingham, he jumped on stage and sang, leading to a recording deal. He was already performing (solo) by 1977. Spizz soon got together with like-minded guitarist Pete Petrol (real name Pete O'Dowd), with whom he released a few singles during the height of punk's popularity. In 1978 Palmolive, drummer with The Slits, joined the band, then named Spizzoil, for a few gigs.
The band supported Siouxsie and the Banshees, among others, and later toured as a headline act in many European countries.
Their lineup in late 1979 consisted of Spizz on vocals and guitar, Mark Coalfield on keyboard and vocals, Dave Scott on guitar, Jim Solar (real name James Little) on bass guitar and Hero Shima (real name Suresh Singh) on drums. With a distinctively new wave sound, as Spizzenergi they became the first number one band on the newly formed UK Indie Singles Chart in January 1980. BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel described "Where's Captain Kirk?" as... "the best Star Trek associated song". Spizz created the artwork for the single cover using felt pens. This was the peak of Spizz's commercial popularity.
This lineup continued as Athletico Spizz 80, gaining a considerable following. They became the only band to sell out the Marquee Club for five consecutive nights (with a sixth alcohol-free, matinee show). "Where's Captain Kirk?" was featured in the 1981 live music film Urgh! A Music War. This material was shown occasionally on late-night American cable TV, and may have helped prolong Spizz's fame. The band released an album entitled Do a Runner on A&M Records, to mixed reviews.
When Lu Edmonds joined the lineup in 1981, the band changed its name to The Spizzles. The group released a record called Spikey Dream Flowers, which cemented the group's sonic image as science-fiction weirdos. Two final 1982 singles, this time as Spizzenergi 2, "Megacity 3" and "Jungle Fever", were the swan song of Spizz in the 1980s. By 1982, the second wave of punk in the UK was over, and post-punk bands were taking over the indie music scene.
Spizz was notable for his annual name change policy, which ceased when the Guinness Book of Records failed to recognise his claim that he had recorded and released the greatest number of recordings under different names (though the book's deputy editor, Shelagh Thomas, nevertheless confessed to owning "Where's Captain Kirk?"). American stadium rockers R.E.M. (who started their band in the early 1980s) recorded a limited edition version of "Where's Captain Kirk?" in 1992, which they gave to fan club members.
After the demise of Spizzenergi 2, Spizz embarked on several solo projects (as SpizzOrwell and performing on The Last Future Show) and played guitar for Heaven 17. In 1985, he toured with backing tapes and female backing singers as Spizz and the Astronauties. After a dance mix of Where's Captain Kirk? in 1987, he had no significant chart success.
The birth of a daughter, Molly Spiers-MacLeod in 1991, consumed the bulk of energy as he stayed home to care for her. The fully-grown Spiers-MacLeod later became bass player and contributing songwriter for the Poussez Posse (a band fronted by Georgina Baillie and mentored by Adam Ant) before leaving with fellow Posse members Danie Cox and Rachael Smith to form self-styled "flock rock" band The Featherz, who toured supporting Boy George, before she eventually left in May 2014. Currently she plays in the Crack Foxes under the name Molly Energi. She and Cox also provided backing vocals for Wild Mutation, a glam-era covers band that Spizz himself fronted.
Spizz continued to appear live, thanks to the encouragement of Paul Hallam, and releases material through Cherry Red Records. One exception was a release on Hallam's own label 442ok called "We're The England", his third England World Cup song attempt (previously "E for England" in 1998 and "On The Road To Yokohama" in 2002). Other Spizz football-related songs are "The Sun Never Sets on Aston Villa" (which appears on the club's official compact disc), "Three Lions in The Sky" (which was aimed at a television producer) and his own label "company song", "442ok".
In May 2006, a maxi-single of the earliest known recording of "Where's Captain Kirk?" (from Spizz's own archives) was released.
In 2012, Spizz and existing member Jeff Walker (drums) were joined by Luca Comencini (guitar), Ben Lawson (bass) and Phil Ross (guitar). Spizzenergi performed numerous shows, including the Joe Strummer/ Strummerville commemorative benefit festival at the 100 Club in London and a Fire Brigades Union benefit show along with Sex Pistols original bassist Glen Matlock and former guitarist of the Clash Mick Jones.
Through 2013, Spizzenergi headlined shows in Leeds, London, Glasgow, Livingstone, Bristol, two consecutive and very successful shows at Berlin's Cortina Bob and guest slots with the Rezillos and Cockney Rejects.
Through 2014, the band played the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, the Undercover Punk Festival in Bisley and other UK cities, and went on a short tour of Germany. They also supported '80s post-punk icon Toyah at a sold-out show at the O2 Academy Islington.
In September 2014, Spizzenergi released a single on 7" blood red vinyl through Plane Groovy Records entitled "City of Eyes", with a live studio version of Soldier Soldier on the B side. The single was a cutting criticism of surveillance society, state intrusion and phone hacking. After playing it on his BBC show, DJ Gary Crowley stated that Spizz's "pen had never been sharper."
"City of Eyes" was accompanied by a highly acclaimed video shot by Brazilian art director Marcio Schenkel.
In 2015, the band released a docu-movie produced by director Phill Calland entitled The Road to Wakefield Pier, inspired by the George Orwell book The Road to Wigan Pier, in which the author documents 1930s poverty in the north of England and argues for socialism. The Road to Wakefield Pier includes live footage and interviews shot in Wakefield when the band played there at Warehouse23.
2015 also saw headline shows in London, Munich and Augsburg, as well as five UK cities with Theatre of Hate and back-to-back gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow with the Rezillos.
On September 20, 2016, the band headlined the 100 Club's 40th-anniversary punk festival. 2016 also saw the band perform at to the Rebellion and Undercover punk festivals, the London Punk Festival, their own annual summer party at the Dublin Castle, and in a guest appearance at the 2016 Bowie Convention in Derby.
The band planned a 2017 live schedule to promote the release of a new vinyl single called "Here Come The Machines" and a reworking of "Red and Black" from the 1980 debut album.
Cat No. AMLE 68514
Side 1: Touched (2:40) New Species (2:21) Intimate (2:00) Effortless (3:00) European Heroes (2:10) Energy Crisis (4:38)
Side 2: Red And Black (3:48) The Rhythm Inside (2:30) Personimpersonator (2:40) Clocks Are Big (0:32) Airships (8:41)
- Spikey Dream Flower (as The Spizzles) (April 1981: A&M)
Cat No. AMLE 68523
Side 1: Brainwashing Time (4:37) Five Year Mission (2:17) Dangers Of Living (3:32) Robot Holiday (2:27) Soldier, Soldier (3:47)
Side 2: Downtown (3:00) Risk (3:34) Central Park (4:22) Melancholy (2:40) Scared (4:00)
Compilation albums / E.P.s
- Spizz: Spizz History (November 1983: Rough Trade)
- Spizz Oil: The Peel Sessions (February 1987: Strange Fruit)
- Unhinged (March 1994: Damaged Goods)
- Spizz Not Dead Shock: A Decade of Spizz History 1978 – 88 (May 1996: Cherry red)
- Where’s Captain Kirk (May 2002: Cherry red)
|Band name / Release date||'A' side||'B' side||Label||Catalogue Number|
|Spizzoil: October 1978||"6000 Crazy"||"1989" / "Fibre"||Rough Trade||RTSO1|
|Spizzoil: December 1978||"Cold City"||"Red And Black" / "Solarisation" / "Platform 3"||Rough Trade||RTSO2|
|Spizzenergi: September 1979||"Soldier, Soldier"||"Virginia Plain"||Rough Trade||RTSO3|
|Spizzenergi: December 1979||"Where's Captain Kirk?"||"Amnesia"||Rough Trade||RTSO4|
|Athletico Spizz 80: June 1980||"No Room"||"Spock's Missing"||Rough Trade||RTS05|
|Athletico Spizz 80: July 1980||"Hot Deserts"||"Legal Proceedings"||A&M||AMS7550|
|Athletico Spizz 80: October 1980||"Central Park"||"Central Park" (Dr. & Nurses dub version)||A&M||AMS7566|
|The Spizzles: February 1981||"Risk"||"Melancholy"||A&M||AMS8107|
|The Spizzles: April 1981||"Dangers of Living"||"Scared"||A&M||AMS8124|
|Spizzenergi 2: February 1982||"Work"||"Megacity III"||Rough Trade||RT096|
|Spizzenergi 2: June 1982||"Jungle Fever"||"Meaning"||Rough Trade||RT108|
|Spizz: September 1987||"Where's Captain Kirk?"||"Living Is Better With Freedom"||Hobo Railway||HOBO001|
|Spizz Orbit: November 1988||"Love Me Like A Rocket"||Plastic Head||PLASPOP2|
|Spizzenergi: September 2014||"City of Eyes"||"Soldier Soldier" live studio version 2014||Plane Groovy||PLGS04|
|Spizzenergi: April 2017||"Here Come The Machines"||"Red and Black" 2017 version||Flickkknife Records||FLS17086|
John Peel sessions
- 1 August 1978 (Spizzoil)
- 12 March 1979 (Spizzenergi)
- 13 November 1979 (Spizzenergi)
- 30 April 1980 (Athletico Spizz 80)
- List of new wave artists and bands
- List of British punk bands
- List of Peel sessions
- Music of the United Kingdom (1970s)
- Joynson, Vernon (2001). Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk. Wolverhampton: Borderline Publications. p. 362. ISBN 1-899855-13-0.
- Mojo (October 2001) – 100 Punk Scorchers , Issue 95, London;
- I was there
- "R.E.M. – Where's Captain Kirk?". Discogs. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Dessau, Bruce (1985) "Spizzazz!: Spizz and the Astronauties, London Marquee", NME, 2 February 1985, p. 38
- "Ababble Of Songs ENGLAND 2006". Spizzcom.co.uk. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Spizoil Peel session
- Spizzenergi Peel sessions
- Athletico Spizz 80 Peel session