The following news story appeared on the T&M homepage on 14 May 2012:

 

  • altNEW MEMBER OF THIS WEBSITE'S TEAM

Introducing Marc Brekau

The T&M web-editors Mark and Rob are delighted to announce that MARC BREKAU, who lives in Melbourne, Australia has agreed to join our website team. Marc, who was born and bred in Thornton Heath, Croydon, South London is obviously a huge U.K. Subs fan, and will concentrate on expanding our exclusive interviews section and also write various Subs related articles, including his forthcoming 'U.K. Subs A-Z Fast Facts' and a massive two part overview of U.K. Subs posters, flyers and adverts.
Marc has already contributed to T&M with his superb 2011 interview with Paul Slack (click here) and you should also read his quite wonderful account 'I’m in love with the UK Subs – tales from the Subs first Australian tour' which is published on Nicky Garratt's New Red Archives website (click here).
Marc's first 'official' contribution to the T&M website will be a very soon to be published mammoth interview with Pete Davies.

Welcome aboard Marc...
From Mark & Rob

  • MORE ABOUT MARC BELOW...

I was born and bred in Thornton Heath, Croydon, South London (the same area as Captain Sensible and Alvin Gibbs, among others), to a culturally diverse family who were always playing music of an eclectic taste. Mum liked rock and roll and country and western (Jim Reeves in particular), while my father liked Sixties big band sounds from South America and Germany (played by James Last and Bert Kaempfert), mixed with a smattering of Spanish guitar sounds and Bavarian 'oom-pah' music. Thankfully, I enjoyed no such sounds, but I do recall a passion for Mums soul records, which would influence my musical tastes in later life (particularly Northern Soul and sixties funk). My Uncle Tony was also a big music fan, and owned over 1,000 albums, which he carefully stored on custom made shelving, filed in alphabetical order! My uncle was a hugh influence when it came to Hi-Fi equipment. He always owned the best in brands, and believed that you should only buy the best equipment you can afford, and if you can't afford it, keep you should keep saving until you can. All my Hi-Fi equipment has been purchased with his philosophy in mind.

My own music tastes began to form around Easter 1977, when I discovered punk via BBC1's hugely influential swengali John Peel, and the various independent record stores that existed around Croydon market. That year I also received a Phillips radio cassette recorder, which was quite a new concept at the time given most cassette players were the portable rectangular ones, with a single speaker and no built in radio. The Phillips offered 3 radio channels (FM / MW / LW), the ability to tape direct from radio and the option of listening to music using headphones. To ensure I gained the best possible sound recordings, I invested heavily in Chrome Dioxide BASF tapes, which helped reduce the dreaded tape hiss so prolific among the inferior brands, and made an aerial extension than ran from the radio to the outside roof, to improve the signal and reduce the static 'crackles' that were evident on rainy and stormy days.

Armed with a swag of blank C-60 cassettes (which I preferred over the longer C-90 version), I started to tape the radio from the comfort of home bedroom recording studio. It wasn't common for DJ's to play punk records, so John Peel was the main source of music back then. Concurrently, I also found that by connecting a second tape recorder to the Phillips, I could create my own mix tape compilations as and when required. I appeared to have found musical heaven!

By mid 1978 I proudly owned an extensive tape collection, which included the UK Subs 3 Peel sessions, plus others from The Damned, The Only Ones, The Buzzcocks and Still Little Fingers, among others. I was also able to make my tapes look professional, for my Mum owned a typewriter, and through employing a self-taught, 'two finger' approach to typing I was able to make tape covers. Each one had a track listing and a title on the side panel, made using 'letreset' rub down letters. In addition, each compilation had its own title, a concept that caused one friend to describe me as a 'sad old bastard'! However, the end result was a good looking cover that proved easy to identify on the bookshelf, and confirmed that the DIY publishing spirit was alive and well in my own part of suburbia.

Around the same time, I started to purchase singles and albums, which by now were more accessible in the record stores. Naturally I taped each album, to ensure I didn't scratch the vinyl through continuous playing. It may appear strange today, but you have to remember that back in the seventies, albums and singles were expensive, and for punk fans there was no second hand market for material, especially in the early days. Every album and single was charged at full wack, and that could financially hurt the hip pocket if you were not careful. And with the vinyl, you always had to be careful to ensure they didn't scratch or warp.

Cassettes proved an exceptional resource for preserving and playing music in this regard, and I soon found myself swapping copies with other kids from school, which in turn allowed me to expand my music library without incurring too much expense. The high school I attended wasn't big on punk, yet there were a few shining stars among the maddening crowd of rock, disco and reggae sorts. That's how I got my first Ramones and Buzzcocks' album, through exchanging tapes. The radio was also active in showcasing bands from the time, and in addition to John's show there was an excellent 'In Concert' series, broadcast every Saturday evening (from memory). The show would broadcast 30-60 minute concerts from various bands, including many from the second wave of punk, plus emerging musical genres like New Wave, Ska (the Two Tone Movement), electronica, Mod et al. 'In Concert' was a godsend back then, and my Phillips recorder was running hot from the tapes I was making, compliments of the BBC. Thankfully, it never broke down once, although I did lose a few tapes through 'tape chew' at the time.

Then in 1980 I secured a Saturday 'van hand' job for a Bromley based department store. We used to deliver TV's and stereo equipment, and through the store I was able to acquire (five finger discount) the latest Atari video games which I'd sell (without boxes) for 5 and 8 pound a throw. When combined with the paper round money, and the 'van hand' cash I made, I suddenly found myself a wealthy teenager, and in some weeks I could easily make £25-30, a healthy sum in those days. So I put my new found wealth to good use, for between 1979 and 1981 there was an explosion in recorded material, and the diversity of music that became available was simply mind boggling.

By May 1981 the musical world had changed, for I left Thornton Heath to migrate to warmer climates down under (sadly the Buzzcocks also split in the same month). I moved to Melbourne, second largest city in Australia, and one firmly placed geographically at the bottom end of the world. Melbourne is a wonderful, culturally diverse city, and widely regarded as 'the nations music capital'. However, upon arrival I found the music scene to be 12 months behind the UK, the local FM/AM radio stations were woeful, and there was little music coverage on the telly. It seemed I had gone backward musically, yet we enjoyed a thriving and diverse local scene, led by the Birthday Party, among others, and many of them would soon leave Australia to seek fame and fortune within the bright lights of London (The Triffids, The Go Betweens, The Moodists, The Birthday Party / Nick Cave et al).

Thankfullly, the city had two independent FM stations (RRR-FM and PBS-FM), both of which excelled in broadcasting music from different genres. I adore PBS-FM, and thank the station for saving my musical soul at the time. I recall one DJ, Steve Sawgovski (I think that's how he spelt his surname) actually played punk, even though he was a mumbler and stumbler with his words. The music on his show was great, and one day I called him up and offered to share my music with his listeners. We did a few shows together thereafter, and both the UK Subs and Buzzcocks were frequent plays on his turntables. I also found myself playing punk to my new high school friends, and once again the mix tape came in handy. Mix tapes were ideal to showcase punk to a new and highly enthusiastic audience.

Alas, buying punk records was a pain in Melbourne around this time. Although some local stores carried the odd punk album, many charged an import price which made them cost prohibitive. The alternative was to resort to mail order, and that could be bloody expensive as well,  given the exchange rate (which was abysmal in the mid-1980's) and the cost of postage (air/sea mail was the preferred option, and this service took 8-10 weeks, from placement of order, for the albums to arrive). Cost and time aside, mail order was how I purchased most of the Oi! records I own, ditto the UK Subs albums F to N (none of which got a local release, from memory), and the live videos they released. After high school I followed the local music scene, and became a DJ at 'The Venue' in St Kilda, a place that provided free drinks, free band access and free records (not all good I may add). By this time the UK Subs were on the downward spiral, the classic line-up had split and their musical output became overshadowed by the prolific US scene, among other scenes around the globe.

Thankfully, by the 1990's Australia had caught up with the music world, and technology was now my biggest asset. Via the internet I found the tyranny of distance no longer applied, mail order was dying and my music library was transferring from tape to CD to MP3 and WAV files. The net also allowed me to follow the band extensively without leaving the country. I've seen the UK Subs play live gigs, individual songs and interviews all from the comfort of my own home. Lovely! Yet I had never seen the band play live, and come the 2000 decade I was desperate to see themtour Australia.

I was continually frustrated by the fact no local promoter had bothered to bring them down under. So I contacted Nicki and Charlie, via email, to see if they wanted me to organise a tour for them. I was not a tour promoter per se, nor did I work in the music industry, but I wanted to apply the DIY ethos and 'have a go' at touring them. Certainly, as a fan I was ready for the challenge. But then Charlie informed me that John from Bastard Squad, another local Melbournian, had beaten me to it. John was organising the bands first tour to Australia (thank you John), and since then they have visited Oz twice and NZ three times. I've personally seen the UK Subs play 11 times, and proudly own all the official material (albums A to W) on CD, plus a plethora of items I found on the web (mainly live stuff). Musically, my association with the band is long standing, and I listen to them as passionately today as when I first heard C.I.D back in the seventies. Nothing ever changes in this regard. Born a rocker, die a rocker, as Charlie would say.

So what has all this information got to do with the Time and Matter website, and you as the reader? Well I started writing articles about the band simply to help the Time and Matter team out. The articles I write are written purely for pleasure. If you are a like minded soul, and feel you have something to contribute, be it a gig review, your personal thoughts about the band, or a story that provides yet another piece in their eclectic 35 year history, then I emplore you to put finger to keyboard and send it through to the Time and Matter team. Anything and everything is of value when you are trying to document the bands history, and there is always a willing, liked minded audience in cyberspace ready to read your thoughts, share your views and live your experiences.

As a UK Subs fan, I hope you gain as much pleasure in reading these articles, as I have had in writing them for you. Viva la UK Subs!

Musical loves: A mixed bag today, but I absolutely adore The UK Subs, The Buzzzcocks, Face to Face, Down by Law, Bodyjar, Pennywise, Strung Out, The Business, Lime Spiders, Screaming Tribesmen, The Hellacopters.

Favourite UK Subs tracks: Anything from Another Kind of Blues, especially Lady Esquire, She's Not There (a superb cover, only bettered by 'Knights in White Satin' by the Dickies) and You Don't Belong.

T&M