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  • Years Active

    1980 – present (43 years)

  • Founded In

    Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, United Kingdom

  • Members

    • Animal
    • Magoo
    • Mark Gilham
    • Persian John
    • Winston

The Anti-Nowhere League is a UK Punk band formed in 1980, by lead singer Animal (real name Nick Kulmer) and rhythm guitarist Magoo (real name Chris Exall), with Bones on Drums and Baggy Elvy on Bass. Their first gig was at Tunbridge Wells, on the day of the annual carnival, at which they promptly got arrested. This led to their first press coverage with the local newspaper describing their gig as a 'cacophany of noise'. In 1981, Gooky (who left the same year), Hopper and Clive "Winston" Blake came in on Lead Guitar, Drums and Bass respectively, although Hopper was quickly replaced with PJ ('Persian John') (real name Djahanshah Aghssa). They managed to get a slot in the Apocylypse tour along with The Exploited, Chron Gen and Anti Pasti. This led to them signing to John Curd's record label WXYZ, with Curd and Chris Gabrin co-managing the band.

Later that year, they also opened for The Damned on a short tour round the north of England. November 1981 saw the release of their first single, a cover version of Ralph McTell's 'Streets of London', with the song that was to become the group's anthem, 'So What' on the B side.

In 1982, things were looking good for the band, with the 'So What Tour' in the company of such groups as Chelsea, Chron Gen and the Defects, and the release of their debut album We Are…The League. However, the Obscene Publications Squad seized all copies of their records, which were removed from shops and they were banned from TV and Radio. To top it all, they were thrown out of the Top Of The Pops studio…just because Animal happened to be carrying a 3ft axe around with him! However the year finished on a high, with the 'Hardcore Storms America' tour with the UK Subs.

Anti-Nowhere League LogoGilly (real name Mark Gilham) joined the band in 1983 as an extra guitarist, which according to the bands website,, was because Magoo was drinking heavily and was often unable to carry out his commitments as guitarist. The band went to Yugoslavia to record a live album, imaginatively called Live In Yugoslavia, but even this was dogged by problems with the authorities insisting that references that Animal had made about recently deceased president Tito be removed from the master tapes, and any language which they deemed to be offensive be bleeped (including a few "when’s", "it’s" and "ands" according to Animal!).

By 1984, things were not looking too good. PJ quit, unable to cope with the pressures of the drugs and alcohol lifestyle the band were now leading and they were musically inactive. 1985 saw Michael Bettel on the drums, followed in 1986 by JB (Jonathan Birch). During this time they signed for GWR Records, and recorded the Perfect Crime album. However, once again there were problems, when GWR refused to put up the money to finish the album once they heard its rough cut, and it was released unfinished to try to get back some of the money already invested in it. This was the final straw, and in 1987 ANWL disbanded. There was a "Farewell" show in 1989.

Fast forward to 1992, and Animal was working on his car, in the rain. The phone went, and it was JB, with the news that Metallica wanted Animal to guest at Wembley Arena, when they did their cover of 'So What'. Apparently Animals response was "Who the fuck are Metallica?, and anyway I'm working on my car!!" JB phoned back later, and managed to persuade Animal to do the slot. Animal put it thus on ANWL's website. "As I waited on the edge of the stage waiting to go on it suddenly dawned on me I was just about to stand in front of 10,000 punters who didn’t know me from Adam and sing a song that I couldn’t fucking remember………….all that kept running through my head was RUN you silly old fucker!". However, after the show, the bug had bitten again. Mark joined that year on Lead Guitar, and 1993 - 1995 was spent playing gigs in the small venues the band had started out in. In 1996, they signed up with Impact Records and recorded their next album Pig Iron. Beef also joined the band after Mark's departure.

1997 saw another personnel change when Winston left the band to be replaced by Jon Jon, and recording the album Scum.

Danny joined on drums in 1998.

The album Out Of Control was released a year later in 1999 2001 Magoo quit playing live shows.

2002 - now…. Jon Jon, Beef and Danny all left, to be replaced by PJ (original drummer), Jez, and Shady. This lineup of the band is still going as of April 2006.

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