1978, the waves from the initial punk explosion were starting to hit everywhere,
and in Basildon, three girls - Alf, Kim and Sue - decided to pick up the
punk gauntlet and form a band that became known as The Vandals. The original
idea had been to have a band with no drummer, just the three girls and
a guitarist - Rob Allen. Alf wrote the lyrics and together with Rob wrote
the music as well. 'Some of That' fanzine described their music as "Simple,
basic, three chord, breakneck speed punk anthems...they were brilliant,
essential and very relevant". Song titles included 'Poser', 'Dead
Loss', 'Dead End', 'Plastic Smile', a version of Cilla Black's 'Young
Love' and their piece de resistance ' I Love my Guitar'.
The band had just a few rehearsals before playing their first gig at The
Grand Hotel, Leigh-on-Sea, on April 14th 1978. By now, Simon Kirk had
been brought in to fill out the sound. The gig made a huge impact on 'Some
of That' writer Jersey Bean, whom said of the gig "The place was
packed and they didn't go down brilliantly, but I was sold from the beginning".
The Vandals themselves kept abreast of the punk scene, and went to as
many gigs as possible, but their key concern was getting things going
in their own town. Continues Jersey Bean: "They had many gigs but
hardly rehearsed which made the gigs all the more wild and spontaneous.
They soon picked up a reputation and a hardcore small following around
town. After much persuasion they played Woodlands, then pretty much any
gigs anywhere, mainly at The Van Gogh and Woodlands."
It was soon decided that Simon wasn't the right sort of Drummer for the
band, and Southend's infamous John Dee joined them, as he was fresh form
his time with The Machines. One of the more memorable nights the band
played occurred on August 2nd, 1978, when, according to Jersey Bean "Over
60 Skinheads invaded Woodlands, but Alf just snarled and the band carried
on, determined not to beaten". Also, "The best gig musically
was at The Van Gogh (August 14th, 1978) the the PA was crystal clear and
brilliant. Rob rolled all over the place, making love to his guitar, with
strings breaking left, right and centre. Alf and Kim were screaming as
if for their lives, and Sue and John Dee kept the rhythm beautifully".
October 2nd they supported Raped at The Van Gogh. It was a great night
with all the hardcore street kids there supporting not just Raped, but
The Vandals especially". says Jersey Bean, " But the best gig
for everyone was the Southend Art School Xmas dance on December 11th 1978
at The Grand Hotel. The crowd went ape shit - the atmosphere was electric
and the gig was tremendous".
In summing up, Jersey Bean says "The Vandals survived (as The Vandals)
for just over a year but the feelings and attitudes behind them stem across
2 1/2 years. Two and a half years of anarchy, chaos and fun. The Van Gogh
is not to be forgotten, but it's Woodlands that hold the best memories".
After the split, Alf would go on The Vicars, The Screaming Ab-Dab's, Yazoo
with Vince Clarke and then achieve global fame under her own name of Alison
Moyet. Sue went on to play in another band with Alison, then Hitler's
Pyjamas, Captain Strange,The Objects, No Romance in China (with Vince
Clarke) and one or two other bands. Rob Allen is playing in Marlow (with
Gary Durant) and John Dee would go on to The Electric Shocks, soon shortened
to The Shocks, The Deciballs and then reggae bands Bushfire and Charas.
Kim and Simon are currently MIA, but their star sure burned brightly for
its time and a great legacy has been left.