The Pack
The Pack.

Kirk Brandon – Vocals/Gtr
Simon Werner – Gtr
Jon Werner – Bass
Rab Fae Beith (& later, Jim Walker) – Drums

Formed in Clapham in 1978, The Pack emerged from the anarchist squat scene of South London – a seething mass of angst & rage. The group consisted of Kirk Brandon, ex- pat Canadians, the Werner brothers, & Scottish drummer, Rab Fae Beith.

They made their live debut at a show for The Camden Film Co-Op & duly proceeded to scare the living shit out of their audience & themselves with their dark take on Punk Rock. Many of the group’s shows ended in mini riots – broken chairs & glass strewn across one trashed venue after another.

The Pack’s debut 45 on SS Records (SS Pak 1 - August 1979) was one of those visceral, abrasive cacophonies that gave the genre its name in the 1st place. “Heathen” was simply one of the greatest sides ever produced by a Punk group. Menacing & dangerous – it was absolutely guaranteed to clear the room of anyone over 30 if dropped on the decks in public. The sheer power of Brandon’s seething vocal recalled the original sin of Johnny Rotten crossbred with something far more sinister.

The choice of SS Records as their record label only added to the implied furore (unfortunately, The Stooges & Patti Smith’s flirtations with Nazi chic were very influential amongst the impressionable young Punks of the UK & this sort of behaviour was de rigour for many hard line anarchists – more in an attempt to shock that any deep rooted racism, I might add). The 45’s other side, “Brave New Soldiers”, was far more indicative of the direction Brandon would later take with Theatre Of Hate: brooding, threatening & laced with iconography.

The single became an instant classic on the (by then) Punk Rock underground – cherished by the Old School as a celebration of honest 1st wave intent & championed by the 2nd wave as a gateway to the future – The Pack were soon a byword for authenticity & a no sell out mentality.

The Pack’s second 45, “King Of Kings”/”Number 12” (RT 025 – 1979), saw the group move to the nascent Rough Trade Records – already the doyens of the rapidly expanding independent scene. By this stage Rab Fae Beith had been replaced at the drum stool by Jim Walker (PIL). “King Of Kings” was every bit the equal of “Heathen” – drenched in biblical imagery & featuring a red cross on the cover – this was a second slice of prime disgust – malevolent to the extreme - & fucking brilliant with it. “No 12” was another up-tempo assault with acrobatic vocals & in your face bass - groundbreaking.

The Pack were so incendiary they were never going to last long - & sure enough – in early 1980, almost as quick as it started, it was over. Brandon was soon working in a Booths’ Gin factory for his sins – carefully plotting his future. The group’s final gig took place at the 101 Club in Clapham. Ironically, the show was a total sell out by the time The Pack hit the stage – unfortunately, it was already way too late to turn back.

The Pack released a handful of posthumous releases:

“Kirk Brandon & The Pack Of Lies EP” (SS 2N1 – 1980)

“Long Live The Past EP” (CYCLOPS 1 – 1982)

“The Pack Live 1979” – Cassette Only – (DONUT 2 – 1982).

A good CD introduction to The Pack can be found on “Theatre Of Hate/The Pack – The Complete Singles Collection” (Anagram – CDMGRAM 93).

Johnny Forgotten – tMx 12 – Oct 03

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