Happy 10th Birthday to TNS Records…
This weekend the UK’s premier punk rock label celebrate 10 years of their DIY operation that has seen them grow into a key force with a special big gig in their hometown of Manchester.
This is a gig you have to be at. For more details please go to their Facebook page here.
TNS Records is a Manchester based independent record label. TNS (That’s Not Skanking) was founded in 2003 as a fanzine and to put on local gigs. In 2008 TNS evolved to include a record label with the aim of supporting great underground Punk & Ska.
The label is run by founders Andy and Bev; Andy described to us how it all began –
“It’s funny trying to remember how it all started after such a long time. I don’t think anyone involved anticipated we’d be trying to document all this ten years on, when we came up with TNS (or ‘That’s Not Skanking’ – a jokey outburst at a gig in my home town of Stafford, many years ago). The fanzine was the first incarnation of TNS, but it was all always geared towards starting to put on gigs and even in the very early days, starting some sort of label. I’d written reviews for a couple of other fanzines and fancied having a go myself. I finally did that in November 2003 (ten years to the month ago). Pretty much at the same time as starting the fanzine, myself, Big Hands and Dave, who were three quarters of a band called McGraw, (incidentally, all four members of McGraw are still involved in TNS on some level. We were becoming disheartened by promoters asking bands to sell 30 tickets if they wanted a gig, by disjointed line ups and poorly promoted events, where the organisers clearly couldn’t care less. We’d put on gigs ourselves since being teenagers, both in my home town of Stafford and also whilst living in Stoke. We decided that the only way to combat the shit gigs we were witnessing was to do it ourselves. I don’t think we even necessarily thought about things in terms of the punk DIY ethic back then. It was simply common sense. If no-one is doing the things you want to happen, then make it happen yourself. Simple.
As well as being a fanzine in its own right, we also used the zine to build up a bit of interest in the first gig we put on, which was on 11th April 2004 (yes, we have timed the anniversary gig to the day). It wasn’t at that point too successful. The first gig was pretty quiet to be honest. But it was a starting point and it was a lot of fun.
It was also the first ever gig for a new three-piece punk band featuring myself, Dave and Big Hands. We are also celebrating our birthday by playing the anniversary gig. McGraw were supposed to play, but we’d unfortunately decided to split up. We’d started jamming songs for a new band, but we were by no means ready. However, a band pulled out on the day and we decided to give it a go. We didn’t even have a name until the day, but we found a funny DVD in a pound shop, called ‘Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man’ and decided to use that for one night only. Ten years have passed and that seems to have stuck.
Another part of our master plan (I say master plan – I mean drunken idiots making things up as we went along) was to try and get the music of the bands we were playing heard by people who might want to go to
the gigs. We were aware that lots of the bands weren’t particularly ‘known’ and that you couldn’t necessarily just expect people to go and watch bands they had never heard of. Our way to combat this was by burning CDRs and sticking them to the front of the fanzine. Issue 4 of the fanzine included volume 1 of the CDR collection.
The gigs quickly became more regular, and gradually became busier too. I couldn’t possibly list all the bands who have played TNS nights. Many have disappeared into oblivion, many have gone on to bigger things, and a handful of the bands who played early on are still part of the label today. Revenge Of… also started gigging more and more frequently. In 2005, we recruited a second guitarist, Liam, who was in the band for a couple of years. We booked our first tour and a friend of Liam’s (Tim ‘Bev’ Bevington) offered to drive. He has been on every single Revenge tour since. However, perhaps more importantly for this story, after what must have been hundreds of drunken conversations over a two or three year period, myself and Bev decided to finally turn TNS into a record label.
Our first release was in 2008, and we’ll never forget the excitement of the CDs turning up. We never particularly expected to get beyond that first release. That said the catalogue number is TNS001.
We always remember Mikey Wong, who is a big part of what we do today, saying “why is that the catalogue number? Are you going to do 100 releases?”. Clearly at the time that seemed ludicrous, but it’s maybe not such an impossible scenario now.
We are now up to 32 releases, which has surprised us as much as anyone, especially because we are still very much making this up as we go along. The gigs are slightly less frequent and no longer free (the bands travel from much further afield and need their fuel covering). They are still pretty cheap mind. The fanzine is far less frequent, but it is still free.
With releases from Bootscraper, Hated Till Proven, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, The Kirkz, and Sounds Of Swami and split label releases from the likes of Acid Drop, Braindead and No Fealty TNS have demonstrated via the sheer range of wildly varying artists whose material they have released just how forward thinking this label is – with end of year releases from The Franceens ‘Stepford Smiles’ (LTW Review to follow) and an official release of Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man ‘In Session From Madia Vale’ which was recorded for Radio and broadcast by Steve Lamacq I think its fair to say TNS will be around for a lot longer.
To mark the 10th Birthday TNS have arranged an Anniversary Weekend which will feature many of the bands they have worked with over the years;
Friday 11th April 2014 at The Bay Horse, Manchester
Ft. The Franceens, The Kirkz, Acid Drop, Officer Down and Hated ‘Til Proven
Saturday 12th April 2014 at Sound Control, Manchester
Ft. Random Hand, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Bootscraper, Beat The Red Light, Faintest Idea, Roughneck Riot, The Autonomads, 3DBS Down and Sounds Of Swami
Joshua Brooks, Manchester
The Aftershow with The Domestics, Black Star Dub Collective, Rising Strike, Bomb Ibiza (DJ set)
FREE entry on Friday 11th – though there is limited capacity.
Tickets for Sound Control £9 are available now at TNS Records and in person at Rockers England (Mcr) and Sound Control