REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN
THAT WAS JUST A NOISE
LP / CD / DL / CASS
Manchester DIY punks sign off their 15 year trajectory with a full blast rocket-fuelled Best Of with a few new songs thrown in for good measure. Louder Than War’s Nathan Whittle gets nostalgic at the loss of one of the UK’s biggest underground punk movers and shakers.
Back in 2004 in a small Manchester venue that rumbled to the rafters as the trains rolled past, at a band night I’m sure was curated by a sunglasses-clad mysterious Mr Big, I caught my first (of what would be a fair few) Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man gigs. They were just starting out and pummelled through a set of glorious breakneck speed punk, full of wild-eyed abandon and punk-drunk jumps. Since then the band have flown through a decade and half of bizarre animal art, Alan Partridge references, the creation of their own label, the launching of one of the best city-wide punk rock festivals in Europe, three LPs, numerous splits and EPs (including a prestigious Live At Maida Vale session), tour after tour after tour, and more human pyramids than they themselves can probably count. They have never been a band to do things by halves, theirs always being a full to the point of overflowing pint of pure punk. So, at the realisation that they would no longer be able to throw themselves full throttle into the band as they had previously done, for them there was only one option: sign off with one more full year of venue shattering gigs and, of course, an obligatory best of. Here it is, one more final Partridge reference, their best of, That Was Just A Noise.
Deciding to run through their best of in chronological order means that the band’s primary objective from day one is put squarely at the front, as Get Pissed, Talk Shit, Dance Like An Idiot (from TNS’s first compilation release) rockets in and begins an avalanche of 27 fast and furious punk songs that fly by in less than 45 minutes. From their first album, Make Pigs Smoke, the band pull five tracks, showing just how quickly they grabbed and grappled with the idea of blasting through an idea and wrestling it flailing to the ground before it has time to draw breath. Dropping off the pace a touch on the ska instrumental I Know A Cracking Owl Sanctuary, the band show that beneath the chaos they were a great bunch of musicians from the start. They also set out their future (the label, the festivals) with the fantastic fury-fuelled Mainstream Music Is Shit, a blueprint for what was to come.
The band threw themselves headlong into the British Oi-inspired punk rock, both in attitude and style, that drenched the hardcore scene around the globe and came full circle with West-coast US labels and bands making waves back in the UK in the 90s. Songs like Drinking In The Van and Booze Time (from their International Split EP) would sit side by side with ease on Epitaph Records Punk-O-Rama compilations, alongside The Descendants, NOFX, Rancid, and SNFU, the last of whom the band incidentally supported and organised shows for last year under their Manchester Punk Festival guise.
The six tracks from the bands second full-length album, 2012’s Shattered Dreams Parkway, show that, while the band had nailed their formula to a post, they were not afraid to spread their wings within it. Is This Cool sounds like a sea shanty being yelled from a storm-wrecked ship smashing against the cliffs, followed up (perhaps with a knowing wink) with Fuck The Sea. From this record they also throw in a couple of remixed songs that edge into brutal in-yer-face techno. 2015’s split with Bootscraper (on which each band covered songs by the other) provides Past Lives Of Saints. In true ROTPM fashion, it would naturally take a cover version to provide the longest track on this best of, although it still fails to break the two-and-a-half minute mark. It’s a rollicking stomper of a song that’s bound to be causing riled-up moshpit circling at venues across the UK on this, their final year’s tour.
Four songs are pulled from the band’s final album, Colossal Velocity and provide some of this best of’s finest moments in the head-spinningly riotous To Be Frank and I Wanna Be A Spaceman. The album closes off with a quintet for the completists – two new tunes, a collaboration with their 2017 touring partner Tim Loud, a live from Maida Vale track and one final digital bonus track (because you know it pays to keep the DIY scene alive and order direct from the band!)
All in all, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man have given over and over to the UK DIY punk scene during the last decade and a half. They’ve never sought to push musical barriers, but rather to break down walls and bring bands and fans together, and they’ve done it with great success. As they sign off, they leave us with a storming back catalogue, some glorious memories, and the hope that their label (That’s Not Skanking) and promotor duties will go from strength to strength. Jurassic Park!
Watch the video for I Wanna Be A Spaceman below:
Catch Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man at one of their final shows. Get all details on their Facebook page.
All words by Nathan Whittle. Find his Louder Than War archive here.