As the church bells signalled the demise of 1976, in Manchester a few local bands were preparing their assault on the New Year,they were: Buzzcocks, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Drones, The Fall, Warsaw and V2.
History now shows which of these contenders made ‘it’ (whatever that is!) and which fell by the wayside. What it doesn’t show, is that for a very brief moment in time V2 transcended all the others with the exception of Buzzcocks and looked the most likely to go far -he farther the better as some would have said at the time.
Formed by Mark Standley and David Wilks in late 1976, after Standley had feigned mental illness to get out of the RAF, V2 evolved from the early days of Manchester’s Pips Bowie Room, The Electric Circus and Rafters scene. They constantly invited ritual abuse and/or adoration from an audience unsure of how they should behave. During their most remembered phase – The Glam/Punk years, they completely polarised people. You either loved them, or fucking hated them.
On record they rarely, if ever, achieved that which they could deliver live. After the first few live appearances, they quickly turned into a chaotic force to be reckoned with, crashing through stages dressed as a Glam Rock Frankenstein (Stan the Man), attacking the spitting audience with their guitars, faking electric shocks to stop riots (which caused riots!) white face/black eyed/bad skin, being set on fire by cheap flash bombs thrown on-stage by a drunken ‘helper’, coming off stage covered from head to toe on gob, beer, whatever.
As one friend succinctly put it, we were ‘an ethereal cloud of irresponsibility’. It all collapsed in temporary animosity in 1980 due to lack of money, ludicrously bad decisions and copious amounts of psychedelic drugs. Over the ensuing decades, it transpired that V2 had become somewhat of a cult band. Mentioned later by some of Manchester’s most celebrated artists as an influence, which of course is very nice.
Looking back now decades later to those brief but halcyon days, I think the most important thing it achieved was to instil in me and many others the belief that we didn’t have to fit in with ‘straight’ society and could invent our own lives. I have been a musician and film maker ever since.
In some ways we were ahead of our time. Listening to the songs on this album, I can hear echoes of The Cure, U2, Duran Duran, all before they were heard of. I sincerely hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane, which I dedicate to my dear friend David Wilks, who sadly passed away in 1997 aged 39. Thanks Dave,
Speed Freak – on exclusive red vinyl – is available here