Unmask Crawling Chaos

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
A nice find for me last year was the Gas Chair LP. I'd never heard of Crawling Chaos at the time but with that sleeve I just had to buy it. I see now that this was reissued a few years ago on LTM. Also notice that Jim Backhouse has played Left Hand Path (drum-machine / pagan-folk splicings!) on the Kosmische radio show.

Anyway, in case you don't know, this was originally released by Factory Benelux in 1981 and is a pretty damn strange and unclassifiable item. It's also really good in places, at various points recalling NWW, Pere Ubu, Amon Duul (I & II I guess), This Heat, Comus, Tuxedomoon, Faust, Cabaret Voltaire (Arabesque sounds like an eastern scaled cross between Nag Nag Nag and MC5's Looking At You or something), and much more besides.

There does seem to be very little information out there about this band. All I've managed to glean from the internet (the Aquarius Records review of the re-ish is as good a resource as any) is that they were possibly from the Tyneside area, some folk suspect it was an arty prank of some kind (I guess that's pretty obvious really, but so what?), no-one is prepared to say who they were, and they may have had some sort of (made up?) beef with the Joy Division / New Order people.

Stoned and smirking pastiche of obscure reference points aside, I really like these guys!

Right now I'm listening to their next record for the first time (it's called Homunculus Equinox for goodness sake), and we're getting No Wave, Beefheart, Thirsty Moon, Amon Duul II, NDW, Ra and Morricone emanations. It's all a bit silly but you've got to hand it to them. Shit, Heavy Lovin' could be Monoshock or Comets On Fire doing AC/DC (badly). And Voedoux is like an almost exact cover of one of the really weird bits in Peking O.

In a strange way at times this band reminds me of Scottish twee-psychers The Bachelor Pad. Perhaps more recently Volcano The Bear?

So yeah, the enigma is fun and all, but what else do we collectively know, suspect or want to make up about this group?



(Is the singer namechecking the band in Heavy Lovin'?)
 

low band

Well-known member
I was wondering if this band had been mentioned here.

a letter to MundaneSounds.com

Hope you don't mind me writing but I have a little more information on Crawling Chaos. What I know I know to be true because they went to my school and a saw quite a few gigs including their first and last.

They were from the villages of Seghill and Seaton Delaval in Northumberland, England. The first gig was during morning break at Astley High School, Seaton Delaval, in the main hall circa 1978. Every kid in school (600+) was allowed to attend. Although it was a very embryonic group they did sing "Throwing Pins". The singer was Paul Shields. The last gig took place at a Miners Welfare Hall in Bebside, Blyth, Northumberland in 1990 when they done a few songs, announced it was the end and walked off.

In the meantime they used to preview new material at the Working Mens Club In New Hartley, Northumberland, to a frankly astounded audience. They used the name Blonde Ethiopean Dance Troupe to do even odder numbers, as their own support band. Paul Shields would come on stage in skimpy shorts and body paintings that made him look like he was covered in ivy.

It has to be said that their live performances differed a lot from the recorded ones. They were a bit more audience friendly with some pretty sonic out and out punk songs. For instance, "sex machine" sounded like something from the first Clash LP.

They weren't particularly odd people though I recall the bassist lived in a disused church or something. I am sure that for a time, the drummer was Paul Gough (?) who also played for Marc Riley and the Creepers.

The last time I saw Paul Shields was about two years ago when The Fall played locally. He walked onto the stage and tried to take the mic from Mark E. Smith, who just had time to half smile before security removed Paul Shields from the stage fairly brutishly.

I hope this gives you a better idea about Crawling Chaos. I have to say I was staggered when Factory signed them. And guess what? They never recorded there best song - "Merry Christmas Prince Charles" which was a very punk, angry snarl.


Mutant Sounds blog also posted a link to the album, The Gas Chair - here


 

jack throb

Member
Hi mate. Thanks for your kind words. The blast below is some of my thoughts that you might find interesting.

I was one of the founders of Crawling Chaos. It was me who suggested the name from a title of an HP Lovecraft story although we had a few in mind at the time. Most of what's been written on the web is distorted truths and imaginings. The band never courted obscurity. We were just lazy, arrogant and unlucky I guess.

The Mundane Sounds article has some truth in it. I wrote to Mundane Sounds and his successor, but he didn't deem my corrections suitable to include in his bloggings so this one keeps popping up in searches unchallenged.

The two founder members came from Ashington in Northumberland. The drummer at the time of the gig mentioned was Clinka (Gazza). An early drummer, Eddie Fenn (Errol Dynamic) left and did work for a time with Marc Riley. His manic "sound" was quite important to the drive on the "Sex Machine" single which sold the complete press run in a fortnight until factory ran out of cash to make new batches and maintain the momentum because they'd spent so much on the fancy embossed cover.

Most creative work was done by:

Doomage Khult
Strangely Perfect (me)
Holly
Clinka

Others who had creative input and are acknowledged on my website. Any omissions on the site are my fault from memory loss and not from malice. I'll fix it if I'm informed.

All corrections to the mis-information on the web and elsewhere can be found on www.crawlingchaos.co.uk

Sorry about the crapness of the site. I'm very very good at VB/VBA and MS DTS interoperability but crap at web stuff. The site was made with Front Page. I'm remaking it in Dreamweaver, but the information will be the same. There are lots of links to the relevant parties and articles I could find.

I've still not had any money from Anth Chester or the LTM lot for the recent re-issues.

The "beef" with joy division is for several reasons...
That they nicked a core part of She's Lost Control from my tune "Mary Whitehouse" which we'd sent to Tony Wilson (Factory) as part of a demo set on tape. The key part is the power guitar rif which is exactly the same tone, speed and chords as the key finale from Mary Whitehouse. See and hear on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oql3E2bG1DQ
The tune came out not too long after they got the tape and after they'd heard us live. Some of our stuff was very like the early JD in feel, speed and content.
Coupled with the widely reported and true fact that they "lost" some tape/tunes for an LP which probably included that one and thus didn't want to be seen plagiarizing us is a valid enough reason I think. Hooky's bass line was okay though. He is a nice chap.
Most of the people from that organization who did us down are dead now, mostly in pretty rotten ways, which is a kind of poetic justice I suppose. One "joke" they played was to dump us onto a gig with JD at the Russell Club in Mosside, Manchester. This is well documented on the web. Some joke. We drank all their beer though. Curtis hung himself two weeks after that.
They even fucked up the name on the crepescule back-of-beyond issue. It was supposed to be Gas Chair Clown, an anagram of Crawling Chaos. The original idea was to have a different anagram for subsequent releases, hah!

***enough sour grapes now. I sound like a load of chips on a shoulder***
*
*
*
Heavy Lovin' is (obviously) a piss take of crap rock bands of the era that used to tour clubs etc. There's a pseudo name check 'cos that's what they used to do (still do actually). Status Cymbals was my favourite.

My personal favourite record that we put out as a complete body of work is "The Big C", usually called just "C" on the web. It's a reference to cancer because everyone at the time (and now as well) was really hung up on it. Listen to "Derek and Clive" 'cos that's what we listened to a lot at the time. (Oh! He's got fuckin' cancer 'as he? What a fucking cunt!"

You kind of got most of our musical influences right. You missed out CAN, Rachmaninov, Iggy and the Stooges, Bowie, Wire, Faust, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Beethoven, Thunderbirds TV series, Sex Pistols, Walter(Wendy) Carlos, John Barry, Johnny Cash, Derek and Clive, all BBC theme tunes, Neil Young, Slaughter and the Dogs, Crime, The Drones, Henry Purcell, Kathy Kirby, er...can't think of any more at the minute.

So yeah, the enigma is ended if it chooses to be so. You collectively know as much as me now. Just remember the Buddha's last words..

"All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation. Do your best."
 
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noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Nice one Jack.

So, being lazy, arrogant and unlucky is the way to achieve enduring cult status? Excellent.

Still really dig the album(s).
 

polystyle

Well-known member
Cheers Jack
Totally hearing you on erm, those you dealt with too.
When we did Ike Yard with Factory America , they shat us an expensive cover that sucked up large % of budget.
Oh conceptual biz - but not a penny recieved.
In der end tho'
Goes around , comes around
 

jack throb

Member
Cheers Jack
Totally hearing you on erm, those you dealt with too.
When we did Ike Yard with Factory America , they shat us an expensive cover that sucked up large % of budget.
Oh conceptual biz - but not a penny recieved.
In der end tho'
Goes around , comes around
It certainly came round for some of that lot although Wilson seems as Teflon-like as ever. I'm just listening to your stuff myspace. After reading your stuff I think I'm off the other way to you, getting into super-dooper close miking of acoustic instruments played quiet so that all the background scrapes are picked up instead of going the totally synth route you've gone.
TTFN
 

polystyle

Well-known member
Aaah, just saw a little news headline re: Wilson that once you hear it may revise that view ,
it regards a health subject you mention earlier in thread.

And re: the IY live @ WFMU studio tracks on MySpace;
we cannot read very much into the production there,
we were on one side of the glass and the 'engineer' on the other.
Tho' we were told 'what you hear is what I hear',
he must have been alseep during the rec,
not a fader moved , levels checked or sympatico effort made.
But so it goes !
The next release will be the more telling result.
we had gone the all electro route in '82,
now our bassist Ken Compton had been playing acoustic guitar before we got bk together and so he brought it into the group sound.
We get a better mix in my living room actually , much more detail rec to DAT.
Cheers on a Sunday ...
 

jack throb

Member
Aaah, just saw a little news headline re: Wilson that once you hear it may revise that view ,
it regards a health subject you mention earlier in thread.

And re: the IY live @ WFMU studio tracks on MySpace;
we cannot read very much into the production there,
we were on one side of the glass and the 'engineer' on the other.
Tho' we were told 'what you hear is what I hear',
he must have been alseep during the rec,
not a fader moved , levels checked or sympatico effort made.
But so it goes !
The next release will be the more telling result.
we had gone the all electro route in '82,
now our bassist Ken Compton had been playing acoustic guitar before we got bk together and so he brought it into the group sound.
We get a better mix in my living room actually , much more detail rec to DAT.
Cheers on a Sunday ...
Bloody hell! I don't go wishing this stuff on people you know but...you're right! Try listening to Derek and Clive - Cancer. You've got to laff. I wonder if I should wish him happy valentines...

re: MySpace tracks. It's nice to see people caring about their profession! Anyway, I think everyone goes to folk in the end. I can picture you in your living room, one finger in the ear, the other pinching the nose to get those country harmonies.

Or not.

Best of luck to you after picking up where you left off. I don't know where most of my lot are really. Perhaps getting on the web might spur some of them on to do a bit chaos-wise. Most of them have had pretty good careers in some form of the arts/theatre etc. But there again, everything in this world changes and time doesn't seem to go backwards much. For myself, music keeps me amused as a distraction to my day job, making databases for the NHS!
 
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