Antisect were an English metal/thrash band, with a background in punk and strong involvement with the anarcho-punk movement. The tag 'crust is also often applied to them, but they never called themselves this and the genre did not exist during their time. They also constantly stated that they were not limited to either the category of punk, although that was a strong part of their background, or of anarcho-punk, although they were very involved with the bands and people involved in the scene that was called that by many, and they tended to state that they were a metal band with a message of freedom and peace. They were active mainly in the first half of the 1980s. They are notable for bringing together elements of punk and heavy metal and being central in the crossover of those genres in the UK, with influences beyond their own country and 'scene', and this is why they are in hindsight seen as a seminal influence in what is known as the 'crust' movement, along with bands such as the Amebix.
Originating in Daventry, Northamptonshire, in central England, they were later based for some time in Northampton and then around the East Ham area of London. The band were among the instigators of the squat venue scene in the mid to late 1980's before finally splitting in 1987.
Their name apparently comes from locals in Daventry who called them the 'anti-sect', presumably meaning 'that bunch of weirdos that are anti-everything', but the name was attractive in both being a statement of 'yeah, we're against some things and we're non-conformists, so what?' and in its ambiguity, being both perhaps 'the sect that are anti-everything' and 'the people who are against sects'; i.e. against labels, segregation, factions, etc. Their initial influences, as this group of 4 friends (Pete (Lippy) Lyons - Guitar/Vox, Pete (Polly) Paluskiewicz - Drums, Renusze (Wink) Rokicki - Bass, Pete (Boycie) Boyce - Vox) in Daventry, were early punk bands such as Slaughter & the dogs, the Damned, the Ruts, the Clash, the Ramones, the Vibrators and ATV, but they became interested in, and also involved in, the harder and more 'grassroots' movement that later followed through the 'new punk' of the early 80's and the 'anarcho punk' that was centred around the band Crass and their record label. They also were, as many musicians, eclectic and open in their tastes and could be found listening to earlier underground rock acts, such as Gong and Hawkwind, some post-punk near-contempories, such as Magazine and PIL, bigger rock acts, such as Rush and even Iron Maiden, metal acts such as Metallica or Motorhead or more obscure and diverse music like Basement 5 or Psychic TV. Ultimately the influences and interests were found primarily in hard and fast music on the one hand, and in imaginative and artistic expressions of alternative culture, resistance to the status quo, and a call to almost 'hippy-like' peace and love, human justice, compassion and cooperation on the other hand.
Notable, as in many bands of the 'anarcho' punk scene, was that an 'antisect member' was generally considered to be a person taking part in the work and contributing to it, even if only in contribution of ideas, writing, or even practical aspects of running the band. In Northampton they added another male vocalist in Rich Hill, and a female vocalist, mainly adding backing and occasional vocals, in Caroline Wallis. Both were very visible and known figures in the local punk scene. But there were one or two others closely associated with the band and adding ideas, artwork (as seen on the LP), ideas and practical organisation. It was in here, rehearsing in a basement (the local residents started a petition to get their rehearsals stopped) that most of the work was done towards their 1983 album 'In Darkness… There Is No Choice'. The album was put out by Spiderleg Records, which was run by the group Flux of Pink Indians, who themselves had had records released on the Crass label. It was recorded in the same Southern Studios where the likes of Crass, Flux of Pink Indians and Rudimentary Peni, and many other bands of the ilk had recorded singles and albums. It received positive reviews in the British national music press, who seemed to be surprised that this genre could show some intelligence and originality, as well as a little musicianship at least in the playing of their bassist, Wink. The mood of the album is quite dark, with mainly fast and thrashy, although also slower and more recognisably 'metal' parts, as well as an instrumental studio jam based around tubular bells and bass. The themes of the album are the threat of war (the desire for peace), conformity (and the call to individualism and inner search), oppression (both institutional/political and on a subtler day to day, social level) and animal abuse (animal rights). Together it could be summed up as a call for peace and humanism in the face of a dehumanising and stifling 'system', the short-sightedness of which is seen to threaten humankind's downfall. The album ends with the call to action of 'time is running out and the buck stops with you!'
This is probably the peak of their 'career', and the lineup that established the band. They played around a very underground circuit, the like of which no longer remains, of squats, cheap community centres where likeminded people set up gigs, and odd 'real' venues that were interested in such acts. The shows combined both the sonic assault of their music, and a barrage of political and social statements, ideas or even poems, either preceding numbers or being spoken over a musical background (as in 'Channel Zero - Reality' on their LP). They generally played for expenses only and the entrance charge was very low, as was the spirit of the 'scene' and its financial reality. Plus not a few of the shows were benefits, usually played with a large bill of 5 or more bands, for various causes and specific activities related to their ideology, for the peace movement, animal rights, or money for the families of striking miners. They played quite a lot initially, before their first album, with the hardcore punk, peace-movement band Discharge, who were obviously not a small influence on their initial sound. Then with acts such as Amebix, Chumbawumba, Dirt, No Defences, Sacrilege and Sedition and many others. In 1984 they toured the UK with the San Francisco hardcore band, Crucifix, who were touring Europe.
The 'fanbase' that developed around them was of a culture that was a hybrid perhaps of the punk that had come in the late 70's, the anarcho punk that followed it, the interest in US hardcore that was just developing in the UK and a metal crossover trend that was just coming in via US hardcore and faster US metal acts such as Slayer and Metallica, who were only just making a name for themselves; but ultimately the main driving force was the Crass-centred 'anarcho', 'peace-movement' punk scene that had developed this underground network of gigs and cooperation around the country, and their idelogy remained firmly grounded here, though it started its own movements towards subtler expression, perhaps exemplified by lines such as 'there is no them and us, there's only you and me', or their song 'Heresy' which is simply a list of questions, such as 'who is your god?' or 'how large is your prison?'. Their desire to be individualists led them to often insist they were not a punk band, but a metal band with a message of freedom and peace.
Interest in the band touring both the United States and Japan came to nothing, probably due to a gradual process of divergence in the band members' interests and distractions in their individual lives, which ended in the break-up of this core lineup, eventually leaving only Pete Lyons and Polly as remaining members until their final split. Around this time Antisect did a tour of Italy, with Pete Boyce remaining for this short time on vocals, playing with and befriending bands such as Wretched and Negazione. John Bryson (another prominent figure in the Northampton punk scene) joined on bass, and brought perhaps a freer and less serious mood to the band, who started to move away from such a, as seen by some, 'preachy' and moralistic tone, to a more open, dark and experimental mood, with also, perhaps, later on at least, some movement towards the 'Temple of Psychick Youth' community of artists in London by their drummer, Polly. Vocal duties were split between Pete Lyons and John Bryson, which can be heard on their 1985 7" 'Out From The Void'. This single, in line with Antisect's development, is even more 'metal' and lyrically concerns itself with inner struggles with self-imposed restrictions upon ones own freedom and perception, and there is little or no overt political or social message. Bryson sings on the A side, Lyons on the B side. With Bryson there was a 1985 tour in Belgium and Holland, playing with the likes of the Ex and No Pigs, before health problems cut the tour short and forced shows in Germany to be cancelled.
Later the band took on bassist Laurence Windle, who, according to a letter to Maximum Rock'N'Roll by John Bryson, had been in London punk band Anthrax (not to be confused with the NY metal band of the same name) as well as the Xcretas, and later Antisect took on a new vocalist, Tim Andrews, from the Northampton, England band Sedition (not to be confused with other bands of the same name), who they were closely associated with. It was this lineup that finished the band with a tour of the UK in 1987, and at one of its shows, in Coventry, the first support act, Napalm Death, first performed with the lineup that was to become enormously popular and make Earache records into a commecial commodity. Napalm Death's vocalist, Lee Dorrian, later in Cathedral, went on to cite Pete Lyons as a major influence.
Pete Lyons and Laurence carried on for a couple of years in London with a band called Kulturo. Pete Lyons is now a music producer/recording engineer working out of Zed One Studios in London and contributes a chapter to Ian Glasper's book "The Day The Country Died", which chronicles the anarcho-punk scene of the time. Rich Hill was involved for a little time with The Band of Mercy in Northampton, who also had played with Antisect at some shows. Pete Boyce settled down in Daventry and started a family, and it is he who runs Antisect's website. Polly was last heard of by the rest of the band as he left to live in Sweden in the late 80s or early 90s. John Bryson started a band called Split Pigs who played around London for a few years in the early 90's and then moved with his family to Essex. Wink died tragically in 2000.
There was also, one other album, 'New Dark Ages', recorded for Mortarhate records, run by the band Conflict. The music was recorded but the vocals never done and the album abandoned. There are rumours that Colin from Conflict still has the tapes.
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