From The Cortinas to Lunatic Fringe and Disorder, Bristol had a huge Punk scene that has influenced, affected and stimulated a vast range of artists that operate in the city. Many of these artists produce music that wouldn’t necessarily suggest a Punk heritage but scratch beneath the surface of a lot of the major players in the Bristol milieu and you will find a fondness for the times of `spikey barnets’, limited musical ability, a `F*** You’ attitude and disrespect for the music industry and its poseur hierarchy.
The Bristol Punk rock scene was a very important part of the musical architecture of the city. One band; Vice Squad had contributed a song called Nothing to the Avon Calling compilation. The track became a favourite of John Peel, got plenty of airplay on his show and threw the national music presses musical gaze at the band. They were one of the more visually and musically striking bands within Bristol’s growing punk scene and their first single Last Rockers started a train of events that was to lead to a major record deal and a career that, for the bands’ frontwoman; Beki Bondage, continues today. Vice Squad were one of many excellent Bristol punk acts which included in the late seventies The Cortinas and The Numbers, and then as the 1970s became the 1980s Disorder, Lunatic Fringe, Chaos UK, Court Martial, The Undead, Chaotic Dischord and a band that didn’t originate from Bristol but whose main members lived in the city The Amebix.
Bristol became very influential in the British and European anarcho-punk scene between 1980 and 1985. Many bands from Europe came over and played at places like the `Demolition Diner’ (a squat venue and café that was sited on the corner of Ashley Road and the beginning of Cheltenham Road), `Trinity’, `The Dockland Settlement’, `The Stonehouse’ and the `Tropic Club’, whilst Bristol acts such as Disorder and Chaos UK became popular attractions all over Europe, America and especially Japan. Bands such as Crass, Flux of Pink Indians, The Subhumans and Conflict and later on many US hardcore bands like MDC, Bad Brains, Black Flag, No Means No etc all came to Bristol, forging links with the city and individuals within it and were part of a growing underground scene. The scene had its own lifestyle politics which included squatting and the formation of many squatters rights groups, vegan and vegetarianism (the growth of cafes and organic food suppliers such as Harvest Natural Foods in Bath, the Better Food Co, Essential Foods and Nova Wholefoods in Bristol), Anarchist politics (Class War and at some points Direct Action had a strong base in Bristol) and even housing co-operatives (One called the `Diggers’ which got grants to buy and rent out property, set up in Montpelier and St Paul’s). This whole scene was very much in evidence, especially around the Montpelier, St Paul’s, St Werburghs and Easton Areas. Animal rights also began to flourish and groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Hunt Saboteurs found many a recruit in Bristol. D and Angelo Brushini from Massive Attack, Dave McDonald from Portishead, Rob Smith and Ray Mighty from Smith and Mighty and Tricky were all fairly active participants in the punk scene and consumed much of its ethos and musical sensibilities.