Punk pages by Pete Pulse

Posted 21st June 2023

Music fans with a penchant for the Northampton scene will want to know all about a new-to-the-shelves release which shines a light on the punk and new wave scene, specifically between 1976-1980, writes Sammy Jones.

A To Z NN Punk New Wave 1976 To 1980 is a comprehensive release – with more than 200 pages to devour. It is the work of Pete Pulse, and was realised during the pandemic.

“To be honest, it kept me sane and helped me connect with the outside world,” Pete told me, “All the interviews were conducted by email, and most people were happy to contribute. So much information is online now and I didn’t want to regurgitate lots of facts, rather I wanted the participants to tell their stories in their own words.”

Pete was too young to enjoy the original punk movement, but rabid fandom mixed with a healthy intrigue helped to form the page-turner: “I felt it was an important time, both musically and socially, and because no one had written a book covering that era, I thought I’d plug the gap,” he said.

While it’s not the first book that has been written about the town and its musical output, “their coverage of punk was very sketchy and piecemeal,” Pete challenges, “I felt a more in-depth examination was required. Of course, everybody knows Bauhaus, and music obsessives will know bands such as the Isaws, and the Russians, but I felt it was important to shine a light on the lesser-known acts. Many bands featured in this book left little evidence behind to mark their existence, so I hope this book will record them for prosperity.

“I also think that Northampton doesn’t honour its musical offspring like it should. Thanks to Bauhaus, Northampton is recognised as the birthplace gothic rock, yet there’s nothing here to commemorate them. Coventry has the Two Tone village for The Specials, Liverpool has preserved all the important Beatles landmarks, so I think we could do something similar for Bauhaus. 

Ritz Blitz Music poster“It feels strange that the UK’s premier goth festival is 200 miles to the north in Whitby, and not here in its ancestral home. It would be nice if the book could shine a light on our musical heritage.”

He makes a valid point, of course, and if this book helps to bring an official commemoration closer to fruition, it will be a job very well done.

Gig poster for Bauhaus 1919While the book looks to the past, it also aims to tickle the interest of those who missed out the first time around: “I was too young for punk, but I feel like I’ve live that era by osmosis through the stories I’ve been told,” says the author, “I hope the book will have a similar effect on its readers. I think the spirit of punk still echoes down the years and it would be cool if this book acted as a kind of template for young artists.”

Pete Pulse is positive about the future of the town’s music making and live circuit: “It is very healthy with a strong foundation. There’s a wide array of bands playing lots of different styles, and there’s plenty of places to play. The Black Prince in particular has been putting on some fine touring bands while giving support to local artists, so I think the future looks very rosy indeed…”

Pete Pulse isn’t promising that he won’t dig into the vaults again once he’s caught his breath from putting together this beast.

“The period between 1976-1980 was very unique, and the variant of punk that followed through the 1980’s was markedly different, so there probably won’t be another punk book. However, there might be a book on the Northampton alternative scene through the ‘80s, and a book on record label Glass who had a strong local connection is on the cards,” Pete teases, “They are pipe dreams at the moment, but watch this space!”

Best save some more space on your bookshelf…

> A To Z NN Punk New Wave 1976 To 1980 can be purchased from Spiral Archive Records in Northampton.