Flannel emerged from Brighton’s anarcho-narco underground scene in 1996. It consisted of Bloke (bass), Cosmo (guitar and voice) and Fat Stan(drums). The original line-up till 1997 also included Mohammed el Gimley (tablas) and DiscoDaveDaRave (keyboards).
Hijacking producer Al Scott, (Levellers, Gunshot), their first release was the hip-hop/punk collision Just Another Screwed Up White Kid with a Guitar, (March 1996). Shunning the usual methods of “making it, ” in true DIY culture stylee, the band toured the UK’s network of squats, summer festivals, protest sites such as the anti-Newbury bypass camp, and Reclaim the Streets environmental protest parties. They also committed guerrilla gigs in shopping centres, parks and other highly inappropriate places.
Flannel’s support for the mushrooming political scene in their hometown led to Sussex constabulary banning three of the band’s shows. Chief Inspector Martin Bailey ended up having to explain his actions by telling huge porkies on Radio Five Live to presenter Magenta Divine.
After blagging a five grand grant off the Arts Council via the National Lottery, more mayhem ensued for Flannel in 1997. Part of the grant was spent on copying their tune Gravy Train, a pisstake of the song Wonderwall, and dishing it out to expectant fans at an Oasis show at Earl’s Court, London. Neo Labour’s election night victory was celebrated with a guerrilla gig in Brighton town centre under a banner saying “Nothing has changed.” By now the band were making column inches in the Guardian, Big Issue, Mixmag, the academic publication Index on Censorship and later on, the Sunday Times.
Further releases Shameless Acts of Self Promotion (1997) and New Kind of Man, (1998), which included the ditty (Let’s all go to a) Ketamine Party. This tune received an airing on the BBC’s 1998 Children in Need charity show, which featured the cast of the Bill and EastEnders. Dot Cotton became a fan, allegedly! Further appearances included National Lottery Live, where bassist Bloke sported a t-shirt that said “Tony Blair sucks Cocks in Hell” whilst standing next to Hove MP Ivor Caplin. And some of the band was involved with the infamous Brit Awards incident when Cabinet Minister John Prescott got soaked in 1998.
Flannel toured Ireland, gigged with Channel 4 comedians Mark Thomas and Rob Newman, headlined stages at the Glastonbury festival(featuring punk karaoke) and appeared in the headline slot at Brighton’s Millennium festivities in 2000. Later on that year they performed an anti-spell on the main stage of the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, London, which closed down a few days later.
For a while they back to their day jobs as captains of British industry and took up places in the newly reformed House of Lords, occasionally seeking bookings on the crusty-hippy-punk nostalgia circuit. Or so they claimed.
Then in November 2005, bassist Bloke died after moving to France with his family. No tales of wild excess here – he slipped off a ridge and fell down a ravine. Don’t believe the hype about rock and roll deaths. They’re messed up, inconclusive and tragic as hell.
The global Flannel onslaught has now moved to cyberspace. This site is visited by thousands every year and downloads occur as far afield asMexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Spain, Brazil, the US and the Seychelles amongst others. Step away from the white line and put the banknote down……
MORE TO FOLLOW SOON……