Posts Tagged ‘That Fucking Tank’

1st July 2021

Christopherr Nosnibor

No doubt it’s an age thing, but the title of this compilation from Leeds noisemakers Thank – a collection of everything they’ve released to date, which number three in total existing across a brace of EPs and a one-off single – makes me think of Maureen Lipman in the 1987 ad for BT when he grandson tells her he‘s failed all of his exams except pottery and sociology, and she famously cries, ‘He gets an ology and he says he’s failed… you get an ology you’re a scientist!’ I’m amused by this, and I have an A-level in Sociology, and I’m certainly no fucking scientist (I also have a PhD in English literature, and lot of good that’s done me, too). As a further pointless digression, the title also reminds me of the third album by another legendary Leeds band, That Fucking Tank.

This is relevant, because back in 2004 or so, Tank were ubiquitous, and proved to be an absolute revelation. It wasn’t that the DIY ethos was anything new – it emerged when punk broke, and has long been a major feature of the Leeds scene. Track back about 40 years and The Sisters of Mercy were representing Leeds internationally on their own label. Whatever bollocks recent governments have spouted, the North has always been a powerhouse of its own making. Free of the sway of whatever’s cool in London at any given time, the Noeth – and particularly Leeds – has forged its own identity and done its own thing. And Leeds has, over the last tent o fifteen years, been a city with a scene throwing up a lot of angular, noisy stuff.

Emerging from the DIY microscene centred around the rehearsal space / occasional gig venue that was CHUNK, Thank draw on a host of influences from home and away, but sound like no-one else.

That debut EP, Sexghost Hellscape, from 2017, was – and still is – a wonderfully deranged mash-up of all kinds of strains of noise, with throbbing synths and punchy fink-tinged post-punk basslines reminiscent of Gang of Four providing the backbone of some off-kilter blasts of noise and some ragged, shouty vocals. The insistent pounding of ‘Punching Bag’ – a dismal, depressed swipe at celebrity taking ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ as its starting target – has that twitchy relentlessness of Shellac about it, and it really only cuts loose right at the end. Thank get delayed gratification – and sometimes they really torture us: there’s no real gratification on the squirming, crawling eight-and-a-half-minute dirge of ‘Petrol Head’ that grinds mercilessly like early Swans. It has the roaring rage of hardcore, slowed to a glacial crawl, and it twists at the gut with its low, slow percussion-driven relentlessness.

Standalone single ‘The Curse’ is an anguished roar of rage – it’s sparse, mangled, messy, and comes on like Uniform minus the riffs. It’s pretty fucking dark and brutal.

Skip on to the last EP, and it’s an even more rabidly raging effort, harder, harsher, more furious. ‘Commemorative Coin’ ups the rage another forty percent. It’s like PIL on steroids: pink and fuck, but more articulate than some three-chord thrash, many time more oppressive and infinitely more powerful. In contrast ‘Think Less’ goes full 80s electro, but it’s jitter, jarring, a three-way collision between Talking Heads, Revolting Cocks, and DAF. It’s crazed, manic, and intense. ‘No Respect for the Arts’ is all-out, foaming-at-the-mouth frenzied. It’s raw. It’s passion, and it’s real. And they speak from the heart here. Please was released in the Autumn of 2019, and this reminds us that the arts were being battered to fuck long before the Covid pandemic shut everything down. Over the last decade, successive Tory governments have been shafting the arts from every whichway. Artists have a right to be angry, but so few articulate that anger so directly though their music. We have reason to thank Thank.

Thankology give us no fewer than ten reasons to thank Thank, They stand as the very epitome of the Leeds underground / alternative /DIY scene: uncompromising, unbeholden to trends, and doing it because they believe in it, and just because. Bands like this are rare these days, and Thank stand apart in these times.

For those who’ve had a taste, this will give the full flavour, and for the uninitiated, here it all is. Get stuck in.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Incredible. I arrived at a gig in Leeds with a dry shirt, thanks to it neither raining nor sweltering. And while it’s not exactly heaving in Wharf Chambers tonight, the eclectic (and international) lineup has drawn an interesting and curious crowd. I decide to take notes on my phone, and not to spend too much time on editing. This is a gig that’ about the moment, and it needs capturing.

DJ Perro, up first, isn’t a DJ, but a band from Mexico. The quintet perform the apex of busy math-rock and they’re buoyant with it. And kinda maybe how you’d imagine Mexican mathy post rock somehow. They clearly love doing what they do, and they’re astoundingly good at it. There’s a lot going on, to say the least. It makes my upper arms itch, and it makes my brain twitch. The songs are incredibly complex and incredibly tight and they’re a pleasure to watch. There’s something transportative and elating about watching five staggeringly good musicians, no egos, and some stellar compositions perfectly executed.

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DJ Perro

Failyer have two synths players and play drony, grating synth noise with live drums from James Islip, gig booker, tonight’s doorman, and perhaps best known as one half of seminal noise duo That Fucking Tank, who I first stumbled upon supporting Whitehouse in Sheffield in maybe 2005. And the blew me away, while pissing on the headliners. It was the same night I discovered Kelham Island beers, so the fact he Duck& Drake where I stopped on the way was serving Easy Rider. Failyer’s sound is sort of Krauty Fall meets Suicide motorik noise. Sinewy, echoey, sparse, repetitive. The skinny singer sits for large segments of the set, leaping up to spit punky vitriol into a sea of rapid reverb while throwing shades of Pete Murphy. It’s an awkward but cool take on The Cramps meets The Fall meets DAF. Or something. They’re the best reminder I’ve seen in ages of why the Leeds underground is an awesome thing. And there is no success like Failyur.

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Failyur

Grey Hairs are the reason I’m here and while I’d remembered they were good, I’d forgotten just how blindingly, blisteringly good. What’s cool about them is that they don’t give a shit about being cool. The press write-up says that ‘their third album Health & Social Care … [is] a scorching reflection on balancing your creative impulses against the commitments of impending middle age’. But the reality is more. Way more.

The riffs are all the grunge with hardcore punk moments high in the mix, and front man James transforms angst and anxiety into performance art: twisting his hands and arms around his face, twisting and pounding his palm against his forehead. covering his eyes and exuding a spectacular awkwardness: his presence is awkward, confrontational, and oddly appealing. It’s a performance you can get into – or otherwise be repelled by, depending on your position and life experience.

I could go home or even die happy already.

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Grey Hairs

But then I’d have missed the awesome spectacle that was Doble Capa, the Spanish duo of whom the event’s write-up describe as being like That Fucking Tank but better. The pair certainly have that Tank vibe, and some serious energy. Thumping drums and what even the fuck is that four-string effort rammed through a trainload of effects (mostly distortion) to crank out a massively messed-up racket is the essence of what they do. It’s punkabilly blues noise making optimal use of a minimal setup. A blur of hair. A blast of noise. It’s compelling. And it’s great fun.

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Doble Capa

And I go home happy, and don’t die.