The Story

Taken from the cover booklet of the CD Unhinged.

Spizz started off solo at a Birmingham night spot called Barbarellas during an all-day punk festival on 27 August 1977. Improvising material on a borrowed guitar, prompting a local fanzine to hail the arrival of an "ultra-minimalist star". By October, he had been joined by a former school mate, Pete O'Dowd (later to become Pete Petrol), and appeared at the Vortex and the Music Machine in London. As Spizz 77, the duo played short and spontaneous one-off improvisations interjected by Spizz's wit and high-pitched ear-shattering screams.

photo of Spizzoil

By 1978, the name Spizz Oil was established, inspired by the sheer size of the new oil rigs moving across the North Sea. After a sensational concert supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees at The Roundhouse, rave reviews were followed by an invitation to record a John Peel session.

Impressed by the subsequent broadcast, Rough Trade boss Jeff Travis, intrigued by the unusual and unique Spizz Oil sound, released two EPs - 6000 Crazy and Cold City 4 - which topped the fledgling indie charts.

Photo of Spizz

Being a volatile team, Spizz and Petrol split up following the Banshees' long UK tour. A month later, Spizz met up with Jim Solar and Mark Coalfield, and Spizzenergi was born. This line-up recorded a second Peel session in March '79, which featured a drummerless version of Soldier Soldier. After the session was broadcast, they joined the Rough Trade tour, taking up the place vacated by Cabaret Voltaire, and Petrol also returned on guitar.

The tour helped shape the songs which were recorded in August with the Fabulous Poodles' drummer playing under the name of Brian B Benzene, continuing the fuel-based names tradition

Dave Scott and ACR's drummer, playing under the name of Hiro Shima, joined the band to finish off the recordings. The decision was made to release Soldier Soldier first and to delay Where's Captain Kirk?, to tie in with the release of the first Star Trek movie. By the time Soldier Soldier was released, Spizz and Petrol had split again. NME made it single of the week.

Two months later, Where's Captain Kirk? was released, and this time Melody Maker gave it single of the week.

A second Peel session was recorded, and Hiro Shima left to be replaced by CP Snare. Media interest reached fever pitch with the NME's Paul Morley phoning Spizz at home on Boxing Day '79.


Athletico Spizz 80 were born on New Year's Day 1980, as was the new official independant chart, which Where's Captain Kirk? topped for the first eight weeks. It remained on the chart for the rest of the year. Athletico Spizz 80 toured extensively, filling venues up and down the country and throughout Europe.

Photo of Athletico Spizz 80

With over 50,000 advance orders, the next single No Room / Spock's Missing became an instant indie No. 1, and major label interest followed. CBS were first to demo the band, but no deal followed, so in May '80 the decision was made to record songs for an album on Rough Trade. A week later A&M stepped in, and by August Do A Runner was released. After entering the national charts at No. 18, they were performing major concerts like the sci-fi fest in Leeds, which was filmed for the BBC TV series Futurama '80 and the Lyceum for the film Urgh! A Music War. This was also the last line-up to feature Mark Coalfield and Dave Scott.

Lu, ex-Damned guitarist, stepped in for the next incarnation, and at the end of 1980 the band, now minus keyboards, followed their their second tour of Germany with a four-week tour of America.

Photo of The Spizzles

New songs were showcased at London's Marquee Club before recording them for their second A&M album Spikey Dream Flowers. The new name foisted on the band by management under the delusion that the boys were about to become as big as the beatles was... The Spizzles.

The British music climate had changed, New Romantics ruled and The Spizzles were unfashionable. After two more singles and a dispute over payment for a video, A&M declined the option and 1981 ended in disarray.

1982 began with an attempt to regain lost ground. Two singles Mega City: 3 and Jungle Fever were recorded under the name of Spizzenergi: 2, and were released on Rough Trade. Two sell-out shows in London and even the return of the enigmatic Pete Petrol were not enough to revive the fortunes of this unique group. Rough Trade released a compilation LP, Spizzhistory which featured all their tracks except for Jungle Fever.

1983 found Spizz painting rather than writing, and only one live show at the Camden Palace, solo with backing tapes as Spizzorwell.

1984, however, was a different matter. Under the guidance of Bowie chronologer Kevin Cann, he produced an extravagant show called The Last Future Show, featuring backing tapes and a six-piece, all-girl backing vocal group - a television show for the live stage.

By 1985, the show metamorphosised, and by playing nightclubs instead of rock venues, Spizz's Big Business, as they were now called, found plenty of work, but they were still in the wilderness without a record label.

Tapes had run their course by 1986, and Spizz was introduced to a group called Friends of Gavin, whose singer was leaving to get married. Under the name Spizzsexual, Spizz rocked again. They encored with a song called Spizz It Up in which three virtually naked girls cavorted around in fetish gear under the dubious name of Fuckspizz.

1987 was a different affair altogether. Friends of Gavin and Spizz split, and he was introduced to a band called Loot by former bassist Jim Solar who was now head of a record company called Hobo Railways. The re-recording of Where's Captain Kirk?, produced by Nicky Tesco, brought an invitation to tour Germany.

By 1988, Loot wanted to return to their own material, so Spizz got together with members of Kiss That and Ian Page (Secret Affair) to record Love Me Like A Rocket.

1989, Spizz played a couple of gigs and teamed up with another rhythm section, and he went with the techno-sounding name of Spizzivision.

1990, another twist in musical style, teaming up again with Pete Petrol and Dr T (Tim Bishop), who had a sampler and a computer. Together they produced techno-Spizz, rave music under the name Spizz Oil, played a lot of gigs in and around London, but, with dwindling audiences due to Spizz's often irrational name changes and switches in musical direction, decided to call it a day as Spizz Oil.

Photo of Spizz

Pete Petrol emigrated to New Zealand indefinitely.

As we bring this story up to date, we find Spizz gigging occasionally as Spizzenergi, as this is the most enduring name, corporate identity and all that. The last reported sighting was in Docklands, 16 July 1993.

These notes are from 1994. The author's name is not given in the sleeve notes, but I have my suspicions :-)

Since that piece was written the only info I have is that there was a Christmas record released in 1994, a cover of Lennon's Merry Xmas (War Is Over) under the seasonal name of Spizzmas, and of course the new compilation album Spizz Not Dead Shock! and a Spizzenergi reunion as part of the Blackpool Holiday In The Sun punk festival in August 1996. Filling in the gaps a (very) little, in 1981 - I think - A Spizz concert was broadcast by BBC radio as part of the In Concert series (paired with Modern Man), and at various points in between recording and touring Spizz occupied his time as a bicycle messenger in London to keep fit, worked for the Post Office and as a freelance cartoonist. I am starting to dig around a bit for more information to get the full post-1993 picture.


back to spizzenergi.com