Formed: Solihull, West Midlands, England, UK
Band Bio / Lineups / Interview / Discography
The story of one of the UK's most fascinating punk/new wave acts began on 29th August 1977 when Kenneth Spiers borrowed a guitar and played an acoustic solo set under the name Spizz at Barbarellas during an all-day punk festival. The festival also featured Eater, Bethnal, The Drones, Model Mania, The Worst, The Unwanted and The Killjoys (amongst others), but Spizz made one of the most lasting impressions when the plug was pulled on his set by the engineer and he wowed the audience with an immediate response song, 'I've Been Switched Off'. The audience picked up this phrase and began chanting it, and at that moment Spizz realised that his calling was music. Over the next five years Spizz evolved from this demented solo act to a duo and finally a fully fledged band, changing its name on an annual basis (Spizz '77, Spizz Oil, Spizzenergi, Athletico Spizz 80, The Spizzles, Spizzenergi 2) and its lineup more often that.
Between 1978 and 1980 Spizz was one of the great British independent acts, recording four BBC Peel sessions for the enamoured Radio 1 DJ and five classic singles for Rough Trade: 6000 Crazy and Cold City: 4 as Spizzoil (so-named because Spizz had seen oil rigs on the television was was impressed), Soldier Solider and Where's Captain Kirk? (as Spizzenergi, because oil is a form of energy), and No Room (as Athletico Spizz 80, because there was a summer olympics in Moscow). Over the course of these recordings Spizz's musical attack ranged from discordant drumer-less art-punk (on the first two singles) to insanely catchy tinny punk-pop, honed to perfection on 'Soldier Solider', 'Where's Captain Kirk' and 'No Room', all three of which dominated the indie charts throughout 1980. On each release Spizz's obsession with science fiction was obvious, and was a big part of the band's naive charm.
Given the runaway success of 'Where's Captain Kirk?' et al, which despite selling tens of thousands didn't trouble the "proper" chart (i.e. the Top Forty), the major label scramble – if there was one - was won by A&M, currently doing quite well with new wave artistes like The Police and Squeeze. A great single, Hot Deserts, bade well, but in spite of splendid, topical cover art and a revamp of 'Red And Black' (from the 'Cold City: 4' EP of 1978), the band's much anticipated debut album Do A Runner had nothing anywhere near as infectious as you-know-what. Instead, Spizz went vaguely "serious" with repetitive chants ('Clocks Are Big', 'Effortless'), nine near-instrumental minutes of 'Airships', and borderline-tuneless sci-fi songs ('Personimpersonator', 'Touched'). Pretty strange, and a record I still play often (AND ABSOLUTELY ADORE), but not a record many people wanted him to make.
Spikey Dream Flowers, credited to Spizzles, had Lu Edmonds (ex-The Damned, The Edge, later PiL) in the lineup and attempted to recapture the zest of 'Where's Captain Kirk?' with 'Five Year Mission (The Search For Spock)' and 'Robot Holiday' but failed. The guitar levels are cranked up high but apart from the excellent 'Central Park' (released previously as a single by Athletico Spizz 80) there aren't many truly memorable tunes. His sci-fi lyrics are still fun, except on 'Risk', where they are annoying, but the 80s sheen afforded by the production (including some unfortunate but thankfully only occasional funk bass) does not suit Spizz very well.
There were numerous projects with names like Spizzorwell (1983), The Last Future Show (1984), Spizz's Big Business (1985) and Spizzsexual (1986), as well as a stint playing guitar for Heaven 17, but the 80's saw only two more Spizz releases, both pretty bad: a re-recorded Where's Captain Kirk? was pointless at best (and, if I'm honest, pretty shit), and Love Me Like A Rocket! (as Spizz Orbit) was completely bereft of character. He has made occasional forays into the studio since, some of them making it to release, but none of these have even come close to recapturing the magic of yore.
Jim Solar and Pete Petrol also released a single as Panorama, 'Dream Home' (Kamera, 1982).
Singles / Albums
|6,000 Crazy (7", as Spizzoil, 1978)||Cold City: 4 (7", as Spizzoil, 1979)||Soldier Soldier (7", as Spizzenergi, 1979)||Where's Captain Kirk? (7", as Spizzenergi, 1979)||No Room (7", as Athletico Spizz 80, 1980)|
|Hot Deserts (7", as Athletico Spizz 80, 1980)||Do A Runner
(LP, as Athletico Spizz 80, 1980)
|Central Park (7", as Athletico Spizz 80, 1980)||Risk! (7", as The Spizzles, 1981)||Spikey Dream Flowers (LP, as The Spizzles, 1981)|
|Dangers Of Living (7", as The Spizzles, 1981)||Mega City: 3 (7", as Spizzenergi 2, 1982)||Jungle Fever (7", as Spizzenergi 2, 1982)||Where's Captain Kirk?
(7"/12", as Spizz, 1987)
|Love Me Like A Rocket! (12", as Spizz Orbit, split with Rev-Revolution, 1988)|
(LP, as Spizz, 1982)
|The Peel Sessions
(12", as Spizz Oil, 1987)
|Unhinged (CD, as Spizzenergi, 1994)||Spizz Not Dead Shock! (1978-1988 A Decade Of Spizz History) (CD, as Spizzenergi, 1996)||The Custard Channel (CD, as Spizzenergi, 1999)|
|Where's Captain Kirk? - The Very Best Of Spizz (CD, as Spizz, 2002)|
URGH! A Music War UK 2xLP 1981 (A&M): Where's Captain Kirk?
The Best Punk Album In The World ... Ever! 2 UK 2xCD 1996 (Circa): Where's Captain Kirk?
1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): Where's Captain Kirk?
LinksRECORD COLLECTORS OF THE WORLD UNITE - All the releases in glorious colour
SPIZZENERGI.COM - Spizz's official web presence
THE UNOFFCIAL SPIZZ HOMEPAGE - Very good but sadly neglected fan site