The Rezillos – Quay Sessions – BBC Scotland – December 17, 2017 – BBC Scotland –
The Rezillos in session tonight. Recorded for the Quay Sessions at BBC Scotland on December 17, 2017.
Although emerging at the same time as other bands in the punk rock movement, the Rezillos did not share the nihilism or social commentary of their contemporaries, but instead took a more light-hearted approach to their songs, preferring to describe themselves at the time as “a new wave beat group”. Their songs are heavily influenced by 1950s rock and roll, 1960s English beat music and garage rock, early 1970s glam rock, and recurring lyrical themes of science fiction and B movies; their influences mirrored those of US bands the Cramps and the B-52s, who were starting out at the same time. The Rezillos’ biggest hit in their home country was the UK Top 20 single “Top of the Pops” in 1978, but they are best known outside the UK for their cover version of “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight”, which was featured on the soundtrack to Jackass: The Movie in 2002. Since the Rezillos recorded it, the song has been covered by other punk bands, including Youth Brigade and Murphy’s Law.
The band started life at Edinburgh College of Art, where most of the Rezillos’ original line-up were studying. During 1975 art students Jo Callis and Alan Forbes had been in a college group named The Knutsford Dominators, a party band playing 1950s and 60s rock and roll cover versions. The Knutsford Dominators were short-lived, but Callis and Forbes wanted to carry on making music in a similar vein. The pair recruited local bass player Dave Smythe and fellow student Mark Sinclair Harris, who was studying architecture at the college, on second guitar, and formed their new band the Rezillos in March 1976. The band name was adapted from the name of a club called “Revilos” that appeared in the first issue of the DC Comics publication The Shadow in November 1973. By August 1976 the band had recruited saxophonist Alastair Donaldson, a good friend of Paterson who was an architecture student from neighboring Heriot-Watt University. Forbes had also introduced two fashion design students named Sheilagh Hynd and Gail Jamieson (aka Gayle Warning) to the group as backing singers.
In October 1978 the group recorded, “Destination Venus”, with producer Martin Rushent at The Manor, for release the following month. By now there were growing tensions within the band about the group’s future direction and with what they felt was poor treatment from their label. Matters came to a head in November 1978, when after just five dates into a lengthy UK tour with The Undertones as support band, vocalist Fife developed scarring of the vocal cords, resulting in the postponement of the rest of the tour. During the hiatus Fife recalled that Callis had told her and Reynolds that “the other three in the band wanted to toe the line more because of pressure from our manager, who was finding the job really difficult, and he was getting pressure from the record company to make us act as though we liked them”. Reynolds and Fife refused to agree to this, and unable to reach a consensus, on 22 November 1978 the Rezillos made the decision to split up.
In 2001, the Rezillos were persuaded to reform and play at Edinburgh’s New Year’s Eve Hogmanay celebrations by Stuart Nisbit, guitarist for the festival’s headline act The Proclaimers. The success of the New Year’s Eve concert led to concerts in Europe, the USA, South America and Japan. The Rezillos had only ever played two gigs outside the UK in their previous incarnation, one in France and one at CBGB during the recording of the album in New York.
In November 2012 the Rezillos undertook their first ever full length tour of North America. The tour lasted fifteen dates and took the band across the east and west coasts of the USA, mid-USA and Canada.
Time to take a trip back to 1978 (via 2017) for this Quay session with The Rezillos.
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