Berlin report by GARRY BUSHELL
UNDER THE dirty shadows of the overhead tube the raggedly rabid mob of Mohicans look double
deadly, like the youth gang The Warriors forgot. Dressed to kill, maybe literally, they skulk the
dingy backstreets to the alarm of the local citizenry - wierd flotsam on an internationally rising tide.
Cos these outlaw youth are German, and their unnerving presence confirms that we must be near
tonight's debut Berlin gig of Anarchy - Britain's finest. The Exploited.
It couldn't be more appropriate. When it comes to the DEA'CIIII'EES The Exploited rage about
they don't come much deader than West Berlin, a gaping sore in the side of Western civilization,
permanently paralysed in the Cold War time warp.
But where this captive semi-city is physically and spiritually depressing en bloc, the sector of the city where tonight's gig is housed is even more so. With
its crumbling streets of half-demolished buildings, it seems like the war here's only just ended.
Only the grafitti of the ugly squats provides any relief from the running eyesore of shattered windows and broken doors; blazing red demands for 'Anarchy
Now' and 'Punk Revolution' that vie for the eyeballs with the crescent moon and star signs of rundown Turkish restaurants. The world's best dressed
bomb site. It makes Canning Town seem spiritually uplifting.
Tonight's venue, Club SO 36 on Oranienstrasse, is so run-down it looks like the place the tramps come to
die. But fired by curiosity as to what punks bred in those stifling conditions would be like - would Fritz spits?,
would Hans stands?, would Donna blitzen? - me and my trusty companion Martin Hooker, aka Secret
Records, push on regardless.
Initial signs are good. Slogans proclaiming 'Strength Thru Oi" (sic), 'Punk' and 'Loverly Skinheads' adorn
the walls. But there's something strange about these punters. Not only are they all Turks, but they also all
seem to be sporting cheapo whistles, fat ties and bold buttonholes.
We wander on to the dance floor into a sea of Turkish couples dancing awkwardly to a tinpot combo who
are stumbling through a mind-boggling re-interpretation of 'No Woman No Cry'. This is weird.
It's at this point that Hooker nudges me and stutters "Ere, Gal, isn't that a bride?"
This is the sort of all-penetrating perception that has made Secret one of the biggest record companies in
the whole of Wandsworth
. Slowly it dawns on us that we're actually stuck in the middle of a Turkish
In vain we try and talk to some of the younger tykes. Why can't the ignorant bastards speak English? I'd mastered the rudiments - very painful - by the age of four ...
Finally one of them susses us out and jabs at a poster that says 'Exploited - Sonntag', and then it dawns on us that the mighty NEMS Agency have screwed up, that the band are
playing two shows tomorrow not one a night, and that we've got an evening free to explore the highest achievements of German culture -
the beer.
SOME HOURS later finds us busy investigating the city's lighting system - some might say propping
up a lamp-post - when a van comes screeching up the pavement at us, almost unbelievably carrying a
full company of Exploited herberts. We're dragged on board and plunged head first into a babble of
Euro-tour stories. Holland, it seems, saw the crowds going seriously barmy, but protests Wattle,
perhaps a touch too much, reports of damage to the clubs by the band have been massively
"We got a bill for thousands of pounds from one," he reveals, "But I'd only done about two hundred
quids worth. Ken, they were just trying to get a new set of everything for free. "But the Dutch audiences
were brilliant. We were getting about 500 kids a night. Punk's happening for real out here now, it's
really like early '77, real hardcore.
"But at Hague the night before last the polis started beating punks up so we steamed in. The riot polis
shoved us all about two miles up the road with CS gas."
"Wattle got arrested," bassist Gary 'Casanova' McCormack illuminates. "But he was only sticking up
for the punks. They let him go eventually - they couldna understand him. ..."
Gary, it transpires, was himself nicked, briefly, on the Hanover leg of the tour for nicking cheese out of a supermarket - the devil.
All these tales are told over a rowdy soundtrack of the Business (their new single 'Harry May' is a band favourite). Discharge, 4-Skins. Vice Squad, Damned, and Big John's
fave sons The Toy dolls; and soon give way to some spirited heckling of passing ageing prostitutes, not to mention startling revelations that the local phone book contains such
unlikely heroes as Herrs Eiderfuck and Williwanker.
A nightmare drive of missed turnings and screeching brakes ends at a trendy club called 'The Jungle' where the Blitz-clone manageress takes one look at us and slams the
door - it's the same the whole world over, n'est-ce pas.
So we finish up at Berlin's only punk club, a nightmarish doss hole called Club Chaos. Believe me it makes the rest of Berlin look five star. It's that disgusting it'd need
thousands of quids worth of doing up before the council could condemn it. Basically a derelict building with a bar in the corner. Club Chaos, is stuffed full of smashed skins and
pissed punks reeling and puking all over the shop, occasionally sobering up long enough to supply their own grafitti wall-paper.
Kids lounge about on the floor looking like piles of dirty laundry waiting to take up the Persil challenge. But the real shocker is the birds, many of whom keep live rats inside
their leather jackets. That's not so bad in itself, or even when they put them on their shoulder and stuff 'em full of cheese - but when the girl with the shock of black spikes takes
her rat and french kisses it ... Talk about surrealism come true. John. It takes stronger stomachs than mine, believe me . . .
Eventually we prise the band away and, to be honest, the rest of the evening is to say the best 'hazy', although I do remember us stopping by the Berlin Wall itself, that
grotesquely sick-making sign of the times that keeps apart the Tweedledum barbarisms of Western Capitalism and Eastern State-Capitalism.
I remember Wattle, dangerously reckless as ever, swaggering up some viewing stairs to hurl abuse at the border guards, and the lot of us finally pissing up the Wall as a
pathetique gesture of defiance. At the time it seemed the least we could do.
"I only ever want to be called a PUNK band, " he announces firmly. "The Exploited are
pure punk, full-stop. I believe in punk as a chaotic movement, totally anti-establishment.
But I do like a lot of Oi music."
"There's a lot of good Oi bands," Casanova McCormack continues. "I believe punks
and skins sould stick together. We're all against the government and for the working
class. Fighting each other is stupid. I don't think punk and Oi should be labelled apart -
it's all the same thing. "
"Aye," Wattie concurs, "The Business, Infa-Riot, and The 4-Skins are all good bands.
They're more punk than bands like Flux Of Pink Indians who are trying to turn punk into
a new sort of hippy movement. Bands like Conflict annoy me too. They slag us, but what
have THEY been doing for the last two years?"
Gary: "Those bands lack energy. They're all preaching and no power."
Wattie: 'Fuck - 'em. We just play what we want to play. I'm into Discharge, Vice Squad, Anti-Pasti, Blitz ..."
Gary: "All the Apocalypse bands are great. The Apocalypse Now tour was the best thing that's happened to punk for years. It was like a breath of fresh air."
THE MUSICAL riots of Apocalypse Now! fever that swept the nation this summer mirroring the riots in the streets were the rampaging proof that not only was punk not dead, it was
also still very necessary, and growing faster than ever.
The Exploited emerged as the figurehead of this new punk explosion, the wildest punks on offer. They even managed to burn up the charts into the temples of Top Of The Pops
its-sickening-self with that magnificent 'Dead Cities' EP.
These following brief but massively successful Euro-dates led into the current triumphant UK tour with Infa-Riot. But despite, maybe because of, their popularity the band seem to
be copping more critical stick than ever. Especially on such vexed topics as hunger strikes et al.
Gary: "Yeah, but the reason Wattle sings 'Fuck The IRA ' is because he's a Catholic. He's anti the whole fascist UDA/IRA thing - it's a stupid argument. Religion is a stupid thing
to kill over. It's the government you should be against."
Wattle: "Thatcher's got the country in a right mess ..."
Gary: "But it's even worse out here. I'd hate to live here, you're brought up like robots."
Wattle: "Which is why it's great that punk's happening over here 'cos punk means standing up for yourself, not letting anyone push you around and tell you what to do. I believe
everyone should have the same rights. I don't believe in having upper classes telling us what to do" (See 'Class War' on the EP) "I hate the way the courts think more of money
than people - the way a bankrobber gets longer 'nside than a murderer. "
Gary: "And it's wrong the way people judge you by yer haircut. If you're a punk or a skin you've got even
less chance of getting a job. We need
mags like Punk's Not Dead to tell the truth. "
Wattle: "That Was the best thing that's been out for ages. I gave a copy to Jimmy Boyle" (anti-hero of
'Sense Of Freedom' remember? I'm touched).
"He comes out in November '82, but he's doing a lot of things for kids. Carole" (Wattle's girlfriend)
"works for him. He's into punk and that. He organised a gig to raise money for charity but we nicked
this telly there and smashed it trying to get it out a window, so he's not too happy. "
Gary: "His wife was in the recording studio when we did the album. "Mention of 'Punk's Not Dead' the
album prompts me to say that now I reckon it sounds positively feeble compared to their live sound
and latest recordings.
Gary agrees: "The old record company got us to do it in three days. They just wanted to make a quick
buck. I'd like to do it all again and release it for a cheap price. Secret are much better."
Mention of the old record company raises their latest money-making scheme - releasing a shit live
album without the band's approval.
"The next album'II be a lot better," Gary continues, "we're getting the sound we want when we go into
the studio now, sort of halfway between the Pistols and Motorhead."
At one stage when Gal's bass amp packs in they actually strike up a chorus of 'Oi vas born in Cockneyland'.
See, sur le continent, Oi and Punk, if not synonymous have at least achieved the unit that we only get in certain, probably the
hardest core, areas of their mutual homeland. Men it can be done!
Wattie leads his troops on stage, face twisted in a savage sneer as he spits half a can of lager over the grateful front ranks, and
the band blitz into a frantic rendition of 'Punk's Not Dead', the universal rallying cry of guttersnipes and malcontents.
Almost instantly the big light stack starts to sway like a nobbled giraffe as the crowd pound up and down in ecstacy to the
non-stop explosion of sound.
A young girl in front of me, maybe 16, maybe younger, (How much younger? - J. Peel) with 'Sex Pistols', 'Exploited', and 'Oi'
daubed on her leather seems likely to go into an epileptic fit every other minute and I'm sure if I was her age I'd be he same.
The band have never been sharper. They're tighter than an ant's foreskin, and rage through the twenty-odd numbers as
relentlessly as a pounding jackhammer. This isn't a gig so much as a total experience.
The new numbers back up the EP's indication that the band are only just getting into their song-writing own. There's
'Alternatives', a 'Dead Cities' - paced full-throttle rampage about working class kids' lack of alternatives (dole, army, dead-end
job) blessed with a really contagious primal-chant chorus.
And further on similar subject matter, there's 'YOP', a heavy-drum based stomper that holds up the
government's cheap Youth Opportunities Programme for the slave labour rip-off Wattle swears it is.
The Best Exploited material is obviously yet to come, and you can't help thinking the major influence is massive Glaswegian guitarist John 'Big' John Duncon, who, mmm,
carries a lot of weight in the band.
20 stone in weight to be precise. The 22 year old man mountain makes his guitar look like a
toy in his hands but he makes music as vicious as a sabre-toothed tiger. His tinged hair,
fur-fronted shirt, DM's, and army greens held up by a Van Halen bullet-belt seem to visually
sum up the band's live sound which he wanted to keep "fast Subsy and powerful". But who
would imagine his track record to date includes wedding bands and a futurist outfit as well
as primal punk and HM combos? Or that he rates Bill Nelson as much as he does Brian
May, Hendrix, and Pure Hell's guitarist???
All the band are characters. There's powerful drummer Dru Sticks, just 19, and real name
Glen Campbell (no wonder he changed it), who's been in the band two and a half years to
Big John's one, but who with his scraggy shoulder length hair looks more and more like a
biker every time I see him and rides a XS 250 Special Yamaha to prove it.
Then there's 20 year old Gary, who despite his stange passion for animal life (dogs,
donkeys und so wieter), is thoroughly amiable and articulate, not to mention permanently
pissed, and who began life in no lesser long mac entourage than Josef K, joining the
Exploited like Big John just in time for the 'Barmy Army' EP.
BUT THERE'S no doubt that live centre of attention is Wattle Buchan a frenzied headcase
of a vocalist who swings his mike dangeorusly close to the skulls of his supporters, as he
all but froths at the mouth like some untamed Dante in the lower regions of Hell.
Son of a brewery foreman, 22 or 24 year old Walter /depending who you believe) worked as a butcher before joining the
army for three years. He was stationed in Germany, and much more dangerously Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland which
was so heavy at the time the only way in was by helicopter.
But the breaking point came after he got slung in the slammer for a week for wearing punk gear, and not even the promise
of being made up to lance-corporal if he reformed could shake him from the punky path.
In the end he bought himself out for six months on the dole and - ta-ra - a punk band of his own, working thru 3 guitarists, 4
bass players and 3 drummers before he got the line-up that makes today's Exploited the spikey hooligans you all know
and love/loathe.
He built up his band from scratch, playing youth clubs and YMCA 's in defiance of the hostile Edinburgh promoters and the
local hipsters, and now he's conquering the world with his own rabid, passionate vision of punk as a way of life, punk as "a
laugh, a say, strong music, a sing-song and everybody taking part."
The young Berliners would have no disagreements. Passionately, almost desperately they urge the band thru non-stop
encores for both shows, loving every sweaty souped-up spirited minute.
And of course on the way out the promoter stopped us, demanding payment for gear that was already battered close to
death, only letting us leave when Hooker agreed to settle the bill in Oi albums.
It seemed to make perfect sense at the time.
NEXT AFTERNOON we stagger round to the band's hotel - well you didn't think we had
the bottle to stay at the same one didya? - only to find Wattie humping his 'swag-bag' out
of the van to add to his illicit collection of hotel 'souvenirs'. Half hour later and we're
plunging into interview time. Wattie holds court, his just washed Mohican laying strangely
limp and lifeless on hs shiny skull. After generously dishing out lager and other liveners,
and without any prompting from me (honest!, he broaches the vexed subject of Punk, Oi,
and Skunk.
Wattie of the

autographs for
fans backstage.
The Exploited - Gary , Wattie , Dru Stix and Big John
Reprinted from Sounds November 1981 (Punk Rocker archives)