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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|
Rough Trade Records;|
|Associated acts||Spizz 77; Spizz Oil; Spizz and the Astronauties|
Brian B. Benzine (real name Bryn Burrows)
Spizzenergi formed in the late 1970s, an English punk/new wave band led by vocalist / guitarist Spizz (real name Kenneth Spiers). 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 their 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 Birmingham's Barbarellas club  he jumped on stage and sang into the microphones on the back of which was given 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 the 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 countries of Europe.
Spizzenergi Line-up: August – December 1979.
- Spizz – vocals and guitar
- Mark Coalfield – keyboard and vocals
- Dave Scott – guitar
- Jim Solar – bass guitar (real name James Little)
- Hero Shima – drums (real name Suresh Singh)
For the first time, Spizz had a dedicated backing band, with a distinctively new wave sound. As Spizzenergi they became the first number one band in the newly formed UK Indie Singles Chart in January 1980. The BBC Radio 1 DJ 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 line-up 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). The tune "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. They released an album entitled Do a Runner on A&M Records, to mixed reviews.
When Lu Edmonds joined the line-up in 1981, they changed their name to The Spizzles. The group released a record called Spikey Dream Flowers, which cemented the group's sonic image as science-fiction weirdoes. 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 Rock in the UK was over, and post-punk bands were taking over the indie music scene.
Spizz was noted for an annual name change policy which ceased when the Guinness Book of Records failed to recognise Spizz's claim that he has recorded and released the greatest number of recordings under different names. "Too Specialised" was the response of the then deputy editor, Shelagh Thomas, who 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 did a few solo projects (as SpizzOrwell and performing 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 which Spizz himself fronted.
Aside from this project, Spizz continued to appear live, thanks to the encouragement of Paul Hallam, and releases material through Cherry Red Records. One exception release emerged on Hallam's own label 442ok. It was called "We're The England" and was their third England World Cup Song attempt (previously "E for England" for France 1998, and "On The Road To Yokohama" for 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 television producer, and his own label 'company song', "442ok".
Added to this is the maxi-single, released in May 2006; the earliest known recording of "Where's Captain Kirk?" (from Spizz's own archives).
In 2012 the Spizz was joined by Luca Comencini (guitar), Ben Lawson (bass), Phil Ross (guitar), in addition to existing member Jeff Walker (drums), and Spizzenergi performed numerous shows including the Joe Strummer/ Strummerville commemorative benefit festival at the 100 Club in London and the Fire Brigade's Union Benefit along with Sex Pistols 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 in Berlin's Cortina Bob, as well as guest slots with The Rezillos and Cockney Rejects.
Through 2014, the band played Blackpool's Rebellion Festival, the Undercover Punk Festival in Bisley, Surrey and also did a short tour of Germany as well as playing various cities in the UK. They also supported 80's post-punk icon Toyah at a sold-out show at the O2 Islington Academy.
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 theme of the single was a cutting criticism of surveillance society, state intrusion and phone hacking, and 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 1930's poverty in the north of England and argues his case for Socialism.
The Road to Wakefield Pier includes live footage and interviews shot in Wakefield when the band played there at Warehouse23.
September 2016 saw the band headline the 'sold out' 40th Anniversary of the 100 Club Punk Festival, 40 years to the date 20 September 1976. 2016 also saw them return to the Rebellion and Undercover punk festivals, North London's Annual Punk Fest, their own annual summer party at the Dublin Castle, as well as a guest appearance at the 2016 Bowie Convention in Derby.
The band are currently planning a 2017 live schedule to promote the release of a new vinyl single 'Here Come The Machines' which will come with 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|
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