ALIEN KULTURE

Alien Kulture, South London

Formed: South London, England, UK

Lineup:

Pervez Bilgrami - vocals
HUW "Jonesy" Jones - guitar
Ausaf "Zaf" Abbas - bass
Azhar "Ruza" Rana - drums

We're playing a new type of music as far as Asian people are concerned and therefore we're breaking new barriers and bringing Asian people to punk music and maybe mixing Asian people with white people, so they can understand each other better.

Alien Kulture was a good little punk band whose very existence was a pointed political statement: the group comprised three young Asians (and a Welsh man named Jonesy - naturally - on guitar), a unique configuration for a rock band at a time when the National Front was running rampant and Margaret Thatcher was happy to declare that "people rather fear being swamped by an alien culture". Hence the name. This was also a time when, although black music and black musicians were widely accepted by the vast majority of white people, the profile of Asian musicians outside of their own community (and certainly within rock or pop music) was practically non-existent.

There was also a widespread belief amongst even racist types that black people, much as they may have hated them, were due some grudging respect for the fact that they fought back against racial abuse, whilst Asians were often seen as weaker, more eager to please, and less likely to put up a fight. It was this desire to fight back, and to be seen to fight back, coupled with a genuine admiration for punk rock, that led to formation of the band.

Zaf, Something Else programme: When we were in Birmingham one time, we were playing a RAR gig there and, when we'd finished, this skinhead came up to one of us us and said that "I didn't used to like Pakis before but there's obviously no difference and I think you're alright". And it's that sort of image, because what's been happening is that a lot of people think that Asians don't mix and that they want to stand outside, but that's not true. I think the feeling definitely of the band and of quite a lot of our friends, and I'm sure the vast number of other Asian youth, is that we are here to stay in Britain and we are here to fight and we've got to stand up for what we believe in and what we want.

Alien Kulture, South London

Alien Kulture, South London - Allied Proaganda fanzineAlien Culture tackled issues explicitly affecting the Asian community: problems associated with entering the country ('Airport Arrest') and 'Arranged Marriages' and so on.

Raz, Something Else programme: What we're doing with our songs is, we're not preaching to anyone. We're not saying go out and do this and do that. Our lyrics are what's happened to us.

'We came full of hopes and ambitions
Didn't dream it would be a nightmare
Immigration Laws are just your customs
for making strangers feel unwelcome'
- Airport Arrest

'First generation, illegal immigrants
Second generation juvenile delinquents
Torn between two cultures
Caught in a culture crossover'
- Culture Crossover

They played at various demos (including one to a crowd of 80,000 people), appeared on television courtesy of the BBC, had strong links to Rock Against Racism and Youth Against Nazis, and acquired a following which included Asians, whites, punks, skinheads and anarchists. Which didn't mean that gigs were trouble-free: there was always the fear that the far right would physically attack them (they sometimes did), and they also had to contend with members of their own community, some of whom could not understand why they had latched on to a white youth movement and presumably considered that fact alone to be a negative comment on their own community.

Unfortunately, despite their music being of a better standard than the former band members now believe it to have been, they were pretty much ignored by the music press and split up in 1981, a mere 18 months after forming, two days before they were due to appear on the Oxford Road Show, a fairly new but ultimately high profile BBC2 pop music magazine show. They also famously turned down an opportunity to play with The Specials at the Coventry Stadium because it clashed with exams.

Ausaf Abbas: The reason we split up was quite classic. The drummer and I were both students at the London School of Economics. We had our finals coming up, but got an offer of a 20-gig tour with another band. Our singer insists it was The Specials, but I'm not so sure. However, our Pakistani roots reasserted themselves and we decided we'd better concentrate on passing our finals. I loved what the band did, but I knew I wasn't going to make a living from it.

And they didn't. Mind you, Abbas is now investment banker, Bilgrami runs a successful recruitment agency, Rana is a chartered accountant and Jonesy works in the public sector in Leeds, advising the council on housing, so they don't need to rely on any royalties generated from their old band to pay their bills. Which is just as well, because they've been ignored by CD compilers as well!

Asian Youth / Culture Crossover, the one and only single, was really good DIY punk with hooks, but angry and full of passion, and certainly up to the standard of most underground punk singles coming out of the UK at the time. Their only other release was the posthumous inclusion of one track ('The Burden') on the anarcho punk compilation cassette Paranoia Is Awareness. Those of you hungry for more and unable to wait any longer for Overground or Only Fit For The Bin to do an Alien Kulture compilation, are directed to the band's official website, where you can grab half a dozen or so of their songs (taken from from the single and an 8-track studio recording) for free. And they are good songs too!

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Alien Kulture - Asian Youth / Culture Crossover        
Asian Youth / Culture Crossover
(7", 1980)
       

Various Artists

Paranoia Is Awareness UK Tape 1982 (Cause For Concern): The Burden

Links

ALIEN KULTURE - Official Website

FACEBOOK

THE GUARDIAN - Whatever happened to that Asian punk band?

KILLY YOUR PET PUPPY - Alien Kulture

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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