Formed: Welwyn Garden City, England, UK, 1977
Acme Sewage Co. had one of the best names in punk and a fabulous sneering vocalist who made Johnny Moped look like Sacha Distel, oozing bratty negativity and possessing the world's worst set of vocal chords (again, not dissimilar to Moped's). They committed just four songs to vinyl, all on compilation albums, but all are classic '77-style invective-spewing diatribes where our esteemed singer lays into every single person who comes into his orbit. Meanwhile, an unusually good lead guitarist smacks out long solos over a typical but tight Raw roar.
Best song? The hilarious 'I Don't Need You':
The judge asked me just what I did and I said, I don't know
The counsel told me she didn't care
And I said, just tell me summat new
She talked to me about being in love
And I asked, what does that word mean?
She just smiled and said, it's nothing, just a heavy scene
Rumours that they were actually The Users in disguise are just that.
The band actually consisted of vocalist Ozzy, formerly with hard rockers Bullfrog ("a good band", he says, "but the others were more into a Hawkwind/Bad Company type sound"), drummer Simon Coxhill (son of the famed saxophonist Lol) and bassist Pete Barber. The new group started out by adapting some old Bullfrog numbers (according to Ozzy: "I redid the arrangements so that they sounded how they were meant to originally. A lot of people also breathed a sigh of relief that it meant that I dramatically shortened the long boring guitar solos that the management and members of Bullfrog insisted upon"),
They played numerous shows throughout 1977 (often joined on stage by Lol Coxhill), including slots at the Roxy, and underwent a lineup shuffle when Pete Barber left. Simon switched to bass, and Paul Walker joined on drums. They even tried using a keyboard player (Simon Turner), but nothing came of that.
Raw Sewage is a compilation that rounds up all of their studio efforts and is a fine reminder of a band that, while not especially talented, were more interesting than many of the bands at the time - they did not sound like bandwagon climbers and they certainly kept it raw.
Band bio from the Raw Sewage CD:
When I first joined Bullfrog nearly everyone I knew was listening to Led Zep and Pink Floyd etc. Myself and a few friends were listening to the Stooges, New York Dolls, Lou reed, MC% etc. Two of these friends Richard Chappell and Pete Kenney are co writers on some of the song here.
Bullfrog was a good band but the other members were more into a Hawkwind/Bad Company type sound. I was more in alignment with the new flux of bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Damned etc. and so I left Bullfrog and formed Acme with Simon Coxhill and Pete Barber.
A few of the songs were songs that I wrote for Bullfrog but I redid the arrangements so they sounded how they were meant to originally. (A lot of people also breathed a sigh of relief that it meant I dramatically shortened the long boring guitar solos that the management and members of Bullfrog insisted upon).
The name of the band was thought of a few hours before our debut gig. With hindsight not the greatest name - although a lot of people have remembered it and it was even cited on Never Mind The Buzzcocks as one of the worst band names ever. A lot of the time we and our fans referred to the band as just 'Acme' but due to material being released we couldn't drop the full title.
We gigged extensively, regularly playing at the Roxy Club which would be packed or empty depending on what night we played. We played some memorable and some forgettable gigs there.
Things slowed for a while due to the departure of Pete Barber and eventually after failing to find a suitable replacement Simon transferred to bass and Paul Walker joined on drums. We did try using a keyboard player (Simon Turner) for a while but it didn't really work. We were often joined live by the legendary saxophonist, Lol Coxhill, and one of the studio tracks 'Talk To Me' features his playing.
The songs 'Car Ride', 'You'll Never Know My Name' and 'High Rise' were co written with Richard Chappell and 'The Mercenary' and 'Too Much Hate' were written with Pete Kenny. 'Too Much Hate' is the oldest song - it was from before Bullfrog days even. I had the riff so me and Pete decided to go to the local pub where a country and western singer performed every Friday, he let us perform a couple of songs - 'Sweet Jane' and 'Too Much Hate' (with Pete mainly improvising the lyrics as we played). The audience hated us and the singer restarted his set, staring at us and singing 'Okie from Muskogee' aiming the first line at us - "We don't smoke Marijuana is Muskogee".
Most of the songs were written were whilst I was living away from home for the first time and tend to deal with teen angst - stuff like alienation and hating exes and were mainly a document of how I was feeling at the time. 'I Can See You' was actually written during the raw Deal sessions and was actually 2 songs that I hard weren't working in the studio, and so I put them together and ended up with the song which went onto the original Raw Deal! LP.
'Freedom (revisited)' wa a one off, I wanted a song where I could go crazy live - the first verse verse and chorus were fixed but form there on it was improvised. I remember that Laurie Driver from the Adverts used to join us at rehearsals and jammed with us on 'Freedom'. It was always a joy for everyone to plat as we could do anything we wanted to do with it.
Ozzy - vocals, guitar
Pete Barber - bass
Simon Sewage - drums, switched to bass when Barber left
Other Members at Other Times Include:
Paul Walker - bass
Simon Turner - keyboards
|Raw Sewage (CD, 2010)|
Punk Collectors Series Vol 1 UK CD 1991 (Damaged Goods): I Wish You Dead
Oh No It's More From Raw UK CD 2003 (Damaged Goods): Radio Call Sign
The Roxy London WC2 - A Live Punk Box Set UK 6xCD 2005 (Castle Music): Smile And Wave Goodbye
The Punk 77 has a very nice page on them. Click here for it.
And here's a short article from Bored Teenagers.