Interview with CHRIS LOW (PART I, THE APOSTLES, OI POLLOI, POLITICAL ASYLUM, GUILTY OF WHAT fanzine) Part 2


3. Did you traveling at a young age or involvement with anarcho-punk present any challenges with your relations with your parents? 

To be honest, I was blessed to have been adopted by the kindest, most loving, and most supportive parents I could have ever have wished for. I was an absolute terror when I was a kid, always in trouble and getting up to no good; police coming round, being suspended and finally expelled from school. I think my parents had reluctantly, though perhaps pragmatically, given up any attempt to control me. Perhaps displaying some remarkable astuteness and psychology they had concluded if I was at given some responsibility I would be more likely to exert some control over myself. Which I suppose I did, and a lot of that was undoubtedly the result of anarcho-punk. This brought me into contact with a vast and diverse social group, many considerably older than me, which in ways meant I was forced to become more mature and self-sufficient. However, one of the worst incidents that occurred when I was down in London recording a record with The Apostles, and went around to a squat with Dave of The Apostles. I think he was wanting to score blow from the Hells Angels who lived there. Unbeknownst to anyone, the squat was under surveillance from the police. As drugs were being dealt from it and some clearly under-age kid was entering, the police swooped in, and I was taken away. I was questioned about what I was doing there, where my parents were etc. As they were away in France and were untraceable the cops could only contact the headmaster of my school who, thankfully, informed them that I did indeed spend time by myself down in London, where I apparently drummed for a band. Needless to say this, caused my mum and dad some problems when they returned from holiday, but thankfully the cops released me as my only concern was not being able get to the studio in time to drum on the Apostles single I was down in London to record! 

4. How did you hook up with Ramsey and Political Asylum? What can you recall of the first Political Asylum show?

CL: Ramsey first contacted me through the fanzine I was doing. I think we'd seen each other around Stirling, at gigs etc. A mutual friend, James 'Spam' Buchanan, said we should hook up as Ramsey and a couple of his school friends had formed a band and were looking for a drummer. At the time, I was in one of those typical arse-about bands called Toxic Noise playing cover versions of punk classics but to cut a long story short, Ramsey and Stephen 'Cheesy' Brown, the guitarist, chucked out the original bassist they had, and joined forces with my mate Flack from Toxic Noise. At first we called ourselves Distraught, which I didn't really like as I thought it sounded too much like Discharge, and this was long before there were any 'Discore' bands. We played our first two gigs under that name. The first  gig was at Braco Town Hall, which I organized with a few mates from school. We came through with a mini bus of Stirling punks, so at least we had a crowd. As far as I can remember, we were pretty good and we got through our whole set, I think even playing a few songs twice! The second show was at Ramsey and Cheesy's school, which I remember being a real fiasco. We couldn't hear anything, and I think we were chucked off after the second song! Soon after this, a school mat

5. Likewise, what can you recall of the Political Asylum demo you played on? How do you regard that work now, with the benefit of the hindsight?

CL: Strangely enough, I hadn't listened to Fresh Hate for years until recently. My only regret was that by the time we went into the studio I'd only just got a kick drum pedal and was getting the hand of 'proper drumming' , but unfortunately Cheesy was insistent that “Winter Of Our Discontent” should have a straight 4/4 hi-hat beat instead of the customary bass drum/ tom bashing I'd played before. I had never tried playing anything like that before, which is why the drumming on “Winter of Our Discontent” sounds so atrociously out of time, and totally ruins the track. Apart from that, I think Fresh Hate still sounds brilliant. My favorite has to be “Autonomous Youth”. In fact, the lyrics I wrote were inspired from the discussions I'd been having with Miles and Nik of the original Napalm Death, who were then doing songs like “Punk Is A Rotting Corpse”, and coming out with stuff that was incredibly unpopular and iconoclastic at the time. Even so, it actually made a lot of sense to me. In fact, it's basically the same idea that Mark Perry had voiced on ATV's classic How Much Longer 7" five years earlier. By then punk had developed a very dogmatic and tribalist element, which I always thought was the anthesis of what it should be all about. Similarly, Oxford St. 48 and parts I wrote of Where Next demonstrate I was moving away from what was becoming a rather 'Crassifist' mentality. I suppose by this time I  was headed towards similar thinking of The Apostles, who I was in communication with by then.

Interview with CHRIS LOW (PART I, THE APOSTLES, OI POLLOI, POLITICAL ASYLUM, GUILTY OF WHAT fanzine) Part 3


6. Please tell us about the zine you were doing at the time... And also your political motivations, which seemed pretty intense for someone so young.

CL: I did 3 issues. I think it was around 1980-81, or 1982. It was pretty run of the mill anarcho-punk stuff, Crass, Poison Girls interviews, though at least I also had bands like Pere Ubu and Gang Of Four, local bands like The Fakes and China Pig. I also put out a compilation tape of local (Central Scotland) bands called Look To The Future, which there was some great stuff on and can be heard on the Kill Your Pet Puppy website. Yes, I did have some pretty strong views, but the early 80s were a very political time. It seemed like everyone was into CND, nuclear disarmament and anti-militarism, because the prospect of nuclear annihilation and conscription genuinely felt threatening. This was the period of the Cold War fallout. Likewise, the prospect of national service in the army when you left school had actually been suggested by some politicians as a way to curb the spiraling unemployment figures and also loomed large in the popular adolescent imagination. Whether it ever was a threat or simply a spin employed by the opposition is neither here nor there. It felt tangible and at that time people genuinely felt they could make a change through protesting, whether that was on marches or from a stage. Animal rights and the anti-Apartheid movements were becoming popular, too. That whole socio-political climate provided the ideological oxygen to the anarcho-punk scene. 

7. How did you come into contact with Andy Martin and The Apostles, and how was it to work with such a controversial band?

CL: I heard a tape of The Apostles (first demo) when I was staying with Miles of Napalm Death, and thought it was amazing. I wrote to Andy and got an enormous typed letter plus about half a dozen tapes back a few days later. We kept in touch and in Summer 1983, when I'd just turned fourteen, I went down to London and stayed with him in the squat he shared Ian Slaughter, who did the notorious Pigs For Slaughter zine. That fanzine was another immense influence both on myself and the development of the early anarcho-punk scene.  During my stay, Andy was recording a demo with The Assassins Of Hope, and I jammed with him in the studio. At that time The Apostles were using Razzle of Hanoi Rocks as a fill-in drummer but as I had recently parted company with Political Asylum he asked if I wanted to fill The Apostles drumming stool. So there I was; a 14 year old kid drumming for one of my favorite bands and squatting in Hackney with no running water  in a condemned building where you had to climb up the side of the building to get in as the door was barricaded up. The Apostles were unique at the time as there was not one single band who sounded anything like them musically. Neither Andy nor Dave listened to punk music, something that I didn't have a great deal of interest in by then myself and was more into electronic acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and SP etc. As for their beliefs it's hard to understand but at that time there was this very hippyish, sixties throw-back Crass-clone mentality where everyone paid lip-service to these undefined ideals of “anarchy, peace and freedom” and were becoming increasingly like brain-washed Buddhists in black rags. The Apostles and Pigs For Slaughter fanzine were about THE ONLY voices in the whole anarcho-punk movement who voiced any opposition to all that and instead were into the Angry Brigade, Baader Meinhof and armed struggle: - "Releasing our comrades from Stannheim Towers/Isn't gonna happen with love and flowers”, haha.  Which is all terribly naive and unrealistic  to consider now but at the time it did seem incredibly exciting and, dare i say it... glamorous. Something there certainly wasn't much of in the anarcho scene back then.  Andy was also  producing a fanzine called Scum, which championed the emerging 'Power Electronics' scene: acts like Whitehouse, Consumer Electronics and Ramleh.  This was what a lot of the disillusioned, original anarcho-punks were getting into, and was probably the most exciting scene happening musically. During my time with The Apostles, I used to bunk the overnight train from Scotland down to London on Fridays and as I was still a kid, I’d find a likely looking couple on the train and hide under the table where they were sitting or spend the night in the toilets. If a guard came along I'd tell them I was feeling sick and my parents were further down train with my ticket. Once I got down to London we would usually have a day in a rehearsal studio to practice the songs then we went into the studio the next day. The first release I recorded with them was The Rising From The Ashes EP where I read out the names of the Red Army Faction and Angry Brigades members name-checked at the end of the song The Stoke Newington Eight.

8. What is your favorite Apostles release and why? Likewise, your least favorite? Again, please give reasons.

CL: My favorite Apostles material, which I still think are absolutely unique and incredible recordings, are the early demo tapes. In particular 2nd Dark Age and Topics For Discussion, which in retrospect are closer to experimental music than punk and are characterized by a very depressing, droney, and druggy sound.  The original studio recording of the first single “Blow It Up, Burn It Down, Kick It Til It Breaks” is also stunning; in my opinion, the only time any Apostles recording ever did justice to their sound. Unfortunately, due to the pressing of the vinyl -  together with Andy's bewildering compulsion to ruin anything that sounded well recorded and played - sounds atrocious. “The Creature” on the third EP is another great track, very claustrophobic and psychotic sounding and of course “Mob Violence” on the 5th EP is a classic. I never followed their work after I left so can't really comment on any of the albums or later recordings. Sadly, I think Stewart Home was right in that Cranked Up Really High book when he wrote “While the anarcho-punk groups weren't really playing punk rock at all, because notions of ideological coherence came to dominate their thinking, The Apostles were locked into a rigid punk rock groove where a desire to explore contradictory impulses resulted in stasis if not actual paralysis”. A great shame really, because I do think The Apostles were undoubtedly the most challenging out of all the bands who emerged from that scene. In fact, The Apostles were probably the only band other than Crass who actually provoked thought and debate within the entire punk movement.

Interview with CHRIS LOW (PART I, THE APOSTLES, OI POLLOI, POLITICAL ASYLUM, GUILTY OF WHAT fanzine) Part 4


9. How did playing in Oi Polloi compare to being an Apostle?

Deek's parents were friends with my parents, and we'd known each other since we were really young. Whenever Oi Polloi were without a drummer and had a record or gigs coming up I'd help out. The first record I recorded with them was the Unite And Win album, which I was credited on as Skullheid! That was a tongue-in-cheek joke as in reality I had my hair down to my arse and was running Acid House clubs; about as far removed from being a skinhead as you could get! I also drummed on the “Punk Aid” single and a few other studio tracks. I played on their first European tour which was a brilliant laugh and a highly 'memorable' time. I suppose the main difference was that Oi Polloi were a punk band with a capital ‘P’, which The Apostles certainly were not. Also, Oi Polloi played gigs which The Apostles didn't apart from weird one off “musique concrete” type events where they'd play amplified  tapes of  printing presses and stuff with feedback and tape cut-ups over the top. So, there was a much more “social” aspect to Oi Polloi which I enjoyed, particularly on tour.

10. I understand you got into DJing and club prompting within the Rave/Techno scene in the late 1980s. Would you say there was a connection within the punk and electronic music techno scene and how "natural" was the transition from one to the other? 

CL: I think similarly to a lot of people who had been involved with the anarcho scene since it first emerged. By 1984, it seemed like the anarcho scene had lost a lot of the aspects which made it initially so engaging and appealing. The early days were characterized by a wide diversity of  musical approaches and then had developed into something quite generic. One can almost trace this decline through the styles displayed on the three Bullshit Detector albums where the contributions become less experimental and adventurous and more 'punk by numbers'. The fact that there are many now who deride these records as "unlistenable" only illustrates to me how the entire point and purpose of anarcho-punk was evidently lost on a lot of people. Also, things did seem to become rather dogmatic. Not in the way right-wing wankers bang on about when they talk shite about the "punk police”, but a rather sanctimonious ‘more DIY than thou' attitude that seemed to be very insular and self-regarding and was more about people's credibility within the scene than the communication of ideas outside it. As I said before, even by the time I joined The Apostles, I was moving on from punk music (though of course continued to follow the more interesting acts) and getting more into electronic music, whether experimental or New York electro and  hip hop which led me into Chicago house and Detroit techno when that started to emerge. I spent the best part of the 1990s running 'rave' clubs and DJing over the world, playing at clubs from America to Japan. I think there are actually a lot of misunderstandings regarding the 'connection' between punk and the techno music scene. While there undoubtedly were a lot of people involved who came from the punk scene, it's a completely false narrative that portrays it as having any overtly political dimension. In ten years of DJing and club running,  I think I only ever went to one 'free party' type rave, which I found very elitist in a rather hippyish way. It really wasn't the sort of music or people I felt anything in common with. The revisionist historicism of rave culture now reads that everyone was embracing New Age type ideas and dancing to sound systems in squats and fields. The reality is they were mostly people who'd be working 9-5 during the week, then enjoying the release from the monotony of their working week by dropping a couple of ecstasy tabs and dancing for hours in existing clubs and music venues. What I would personally contend made this "revolutionary”, and perhaps impossible to view through an orthodox sociological lens, was precisely that it WAS an unpoliticized hedonism. This allowed people to, perhaps for the first time ever, to realize there wasn't anything intrinsically wrong in enjoying themselves without a care for what conservative society might think. As a result, this broke down existing barriers and prejudice in terms of sexism, racism, and homophobia. As Emma Goldman said in the 1860s: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution”, and what can be more revolutionary than that? 

11 Are you still in touch with anyone from any of the bands you played with?

CL: I am happy to say that I am still in touch with members of all the bands I have been in, to varying degrees. There are hundreds of others from my anarcho-punk past who I've had the immense pleasure in regaining contact with via social media. It's great to find out what some amazing and inspirational people I was corresponding with, in some cases forty or so years ago, are doing now, and I am pleased to say most are doing pretty well and are still every bit as genuine, nonconformist and critical of the injustices of society and the capitalist system now as they were then.

OUT NOW: DISCLONE - Harsh Raw Affront Vol. 1 cassette (DTE39)


28 minutes of shit-licking crasher mangel discore

OUT NOW: V/A Make Love Not War!?! (DTE36)


The latest Doomed To Extinction Records release is a 5 band compilation cassette representing a thriving hardcore punk scene in Yugoslavia circa 1980's. Here we have bands that did not come out of major cities (“Punk was all over smaller cities and towns, even villages. I remember seeing punk graffiti in places such as Visoko. Fanzines were coming out of places like Sisak, Subotica, and Slavonska Požega”- Boris of Doboj's hardcore band Fuck The Army).While most of the bands on the tape had their music on various Yugoslav compilations back in the 1980's, this release is especially interesting. It contains only bands from Socialist Federal Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Ženevski Dekret's Golub, “The idea of releasing only current hardcore bands from Bosnia/Herzegovina was great, and the name of the release was quite prophetic knowing what happened a few years later”.

The bands represented here are: WSW, A.W.O.L., and Terminatori (all from Banja Luka), Dissidents (from Prijedor), and Ženevski Dekret (from Mostar). 

All songs were recorded in 1986. Ženevski Dekret recorded in Ljubljana at Borut Činč's studio, known for recording many punk bands at the time. The lineup was: Kokić- vocals, Kuzma- guitar, Golub- bass, Toča- drums. The remaining bands all recorded at WSW practice room during a show held there. Late Dražen Zarić of WSW was one of the driving forces of the regional punk scene at the time. He did a zine called “Istočna Fronta”, and also ran a distro. His band WSW formed in 1984. One of their songs from the compilation was recorded live in Ljubljana at the hardcore fešta Ni starhu. Later a VHS of the same name was released, as well as a compilation cassette tape “Čudesa ne bo”. For some mysterious reason, the WSW set did not get put on either of the releases. “They were not any better nor worse than any other bands that played that night” (ie Tožibabe, III Kategorija, Patareni, SOR...)- Golub, Ženevski Dekret.
Dissidents formed in Prijedor in 1986. Their songs on here were taken from their first demo. They did 3 demos total. “About 80% of my fanzines, records, demos, and tapes were destroyed, lost, or stolen during the war”- Samir/ Sexy, Dissidents). Lineup: Eka- drums, Dušan (Dule Kengur)- guitar, Amir/Serđo- bass, Samir- vocals.

Unfortunately, most recordings, poster, flyers, and zines documenting the scene were lost or destroyed during the 90s wartime. During the process of putting the tape out, it was a big challenge tracking down members of the bands. Only 2 of them still live back in Bosnia and Croatia. The remaining ones are scattered within the UK to Sweden, from Germany to Australia, and the US... clear proof of what ethnic cleansing, hatred, and war bring upon people. 

This is a testament of a time. 30 minutes of raw, unpolished, noise drenched punk.
The story is not over. Digging and researching continues. Soon more on the Yugoslavian hardcore scene including texts on punk zines, fests, demos, anti-war, and anti-nationalism.

January 2022.