Formed: Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
BAND BIO NICKED FROM SPIT RECORDS (click here for the real thing!)
Protex formed in 1978 as a direct result of band members witnessing firsthand The Clash’s now infamous visit to Belfast the previous year when their gig was pulled at the eleventh hour due to insurance wrangles. The Clash’s trip to Belfast in 1977 is viewed by many as the catalyst for the Punk movement in N. Ireland. The band was greatly influenced by The Clash and even took their initial name (Protex Blue) from an album track on Strummer and Co’s self titled debut album. The band at the time had absolutely no idea that the Clash song was in fact about condoms.
Their debut live performance came a few months later in 1978 at Knock Methodist Church Hall in Belfast. Shortly after this show the band shortened their name to Protex and continued gigging around Belfast eventually securing a radio session with local station Downtown Radio. Through regular gigging around the city the band soon came to the attention of Terri Hooley and a three track debut 45 Don’t Ring Me Up was subsequently released on his Good Vibrations record label. The Belfast label having previously released singles by Rudi, Victim, The Outcasts and The Undertones. The single would go on to receive two different sleeve pressings on the Good Vibrations label before later being released on the London based Rough Trade Records (the only edition of the single not to feature a foldout sleeve).
On the back of good reviews including one from influential NME scribe Tony Parsons and lots of air play the band then secured a prestigious BBC Radio 1 session for the Kid Jenson show. The exposure gained from this in turn resulted in major record company interest in the form of Polydor Records. The band were all still in sixth form at school studying for their A levels when A&R men came over from London to see them play live together with the Xdreamysts at Chester’s in Portrush. Both bands were subsequently signed to the label and during the Easter holidays 1979 the band went to London to record their debut single for their new record company. I Can’t Cope was released to a flurry of radio airplay and music press interest and with their new record company backing they secured a UK support slot on an up and coming Adam and the Ants UK tour. This tour only lasted for one show before Protex pulled out of the tour, the general consensus being that they weren’t best suited to the audiences that the Ants were attracting at that time. They did however permanently move to London after this and now under the management of Mary – Carol Canon set up base at the Chessington house once the residence of Genesis .
I Can Only Dream was the next single to be released by Polydor. It was produced by Chas Chandler, ex bass player with The Animals and Slade producer. There were also sessions recorded at Mickey Most’s The Rak studios around this time too which the band liked but Polydor rejected as being “too produced”. These recordings remain unreleased. Another UK support tour soon got under way in Liverpool, this time opening for the Boomtown Rats. These dates were followed by a Scottish tour and further tours in America and Canada in 1980. Three tracks from the bands New York City concert at the Hurrah Club were filmed by John T Davis and subsequently made into a short movie interspersed with footage of the band at the St Patrick’s day parades in the city. This short film was entitled Sham Rock and has never officially been released but you can view a clip below. The bands final release for Polydor was the A Place In Your Heart single after which they were disappointingly dropped by the label. The band did however return to the Pound Club in Belfast for several farewell shows before they eventually folded.
In 210 New York label Sing Sing Records located the long lost Protex Polydor album recordings and released them on a limited run vinyl pressing entitled Strange Obsessions, igniting renewed interest in the band. This coupled with youtube hits in excess of 30,000 for just one of their tracks along and a forthcoming Japanese release of the John T Davis movie Shellshock Rock prompted original members Aidan Murtagh (guitar/vocals) and David McMaster (guitar/vocals) to reform the band. They are ably assisted by new members Andrew Curliss on bass (ex The Zipps and Rumblemambo) and Gordie Walker on drums (ex Crash Into June, Glam Slam, Henry Cluney (SLF) and Stardust to name just a few). The band have several gigs planned for the summer of 2012.