The Membranes

Born out of punk rock DIY the Membranes were formed in 1977 and started playing gigs a couple of years later before they knew what chords were or that you had to tune your guitar.

They were in love with the feral energy of punk, the intensity and northern melancholy, the nature howl of Captain beef heart and the freedom of expression of the women in punk.

They developed this into an art from by the time of their 1981 Muscles single which was bizarrely a big hit in the New York hipster clubs without their knowledge and by the time of their 1984 released single Spike Milligans Tape Recorder single and Death To trad Rock EP which were noisy yet carefully contracted pieces of colliding sound and bass heavy riffing.

They were on their own and slowly pulled together a following from the initially hostile audiences with their incessant touring- building ups circuit of fanzine promoters for the bands that would follow in their wake.

Many bands began to send them tapes and a mini scene of noisenik bands built up around recently documented in John Robb's Death To Trad Rock book.

Supported by John Peel and the music press the band built up an international reputation and were signed to Creation records and Homestead in the USA. They were one of the first bands to be recorded by Steve Albini. They travelled to his studio in his cellar to record their biggest selling album, Kiss Ass Godhead.

By now their gigs were busy and chaotic with showers of paper growing out the stage and a fervent and wild following across Europe and the USA.

They appeared an British national TV on 'the Tube' and Dinosaur Jnr recorded a video for Freak Scene in their back garden and they helped out a lot of bands whilst becoming the byword for noisy and intense performances in the several year period before Big Black and Sonic Youth appeared on the scene.

They decided to take a rest in 1990 and returned in 2009 for intermittent gigs at ATP at the request of former support band My Bloody Valentine and gigs in Istanbul, Algiers, Brazil and Moscow before recording their single 'If You Enter the Arena You Got To be prepared to Deal With The Lions…'

Frontman John Robb currently edits the music website


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