February 2014 • Piranhas split after 4 year return - is that it?
Well I must admit it came as a bit of s shock when I heard this news, only a few days before a planned gig at the Horse & Groom with Asbo Derek as support on Saturday 22 February.
Just as the boys seemed to be on the up and up again, they have now gone their seperate ways. This was the third Piranhas incarnation after they called it a day following chart success with Tom Hark back in 1980, which earned them a silver disc.
Next followed a new line up featuring ex-Dodgems bassist Gary Turner which resulted in more success with Zambezi, but this was shortlived and the band wasn't revived again until 2010, with Bob Grover and John Helmer linking up again, joined by Owen Kellett on bass, Steve Burnaby Davies on drums and Dominic Dring on sax.
So Brighton's best loved band is no more, but is this really the end?
September 2013 • Rare Piranhas 7" white label pressing turns up
Almost forty years later - now it can be heard!
Many thanks to John Gosling, who sent in an mp3 of a very rare white label 7 inch pressing of Shut Up by the Piranhas, and also to Stuart Jones who took a lot of time and effort to clean up the recording.
In a bid to find out more about this rare gem, Stuart got this reply from the Piranhas' John Helmer:
"Neither Bob nor I can remember that much about it. Bob recalls that we might have had it mastered for a single, but the white labels weren't up to scratch so we didn't release it.
As to what year I couldn't say, but very early - probably 77-78. Given that date, the drummer is probably Dick (Slexia), but equally could be one of two others.
Having listened to the sound file we both really like it and have no objections to it being put up on punkbrighton. This is Piranhas pre-history: pre-Attrix and even pre-having-a-saxophone-player. Neither Bob or I have any other old cassettes, white labels or anything else of this track, so what you have is the only copy, so far as we know."
"Here's a white-hot treasure, a pounding, malevolent razor-cut delivered with awesome confidence. Over a marauding rhythm section and some outstanding lead guitar, Grover's vocal sounds at times uncannily like that of John Lydon and - even more so - the bloke in Wire.
This is a recording of considerable historical importance as regards the Brighton music scene of the time, not to mention a valuable and fascinating addition to the general UK punk movement sometime between 1977 - 1978.
Now all we need is for BBC6 Music to repeat the group's 15th September 1980 Mike Read session, with its two unreleased songs, Pay Back and Two-Time Sally. Unless of course someone reading this has a tape of it..."
Celebrating the life of the late great DJ (1939-2004) with several support acts: south London Peel faves I Ludicrous and garage group The Fallen Leaves plus Ben Graham. DJ Ian Part Time plays a selection of tunes first heard by many on Peelie's show. Topping the bill are Piranhas 3D (formerly Brighton's original punk band The Piranhas), .
7:30pm @ The Prince Albert
Trafalgar St, Brighton.
Tickets: £5 advance from www.wegottickets.com
Resident and £6 on the door
About the PiranhasFirst John Peel Session - master tape quality
Dicke Slexia • drums
Reginald Frederick Hornsbury • bass
John Helmer • vocals, lead guitar
Bob Grover • vocals, guitar
Zoot Alors • saxophone
Featured onVaultage 78, this band really got the ball rolling in Brighton. Their live act was one of the best around and they soon had a large following and were beginning to get some choice gigs out of town. Their songs were laced with a dry, sardonic wit, backed up with some catchy hooklines.
From Suzy Horne in the the Piranhas first fan club fanzine:
"Their first gig as the Piranhas was at the Vault supporting another local punk band Wrist Action. It was an anti-Jubilee gig, held on Jubilee Day 1977. Even the hand stamp said 'Fuck the Jubilee'.
Their set consisted of about eight punk songs with titles such as Maniac, Tell the Truth, Hilary Bites, I Want Your Body and Johnny Mono, plus a couple of covers including a punk version of Let's Spend the Night Together. The only slower song was called Shut Up which became a strong favourite and highlight of the set. It even had it's own dance at one time."
First John Peel Session Dave Sharpe | Piranhas | 4 Nov 2013 Hi there Phil here’s a link to the Piranhas first session really fantastic quality maybe you could get Stuart to replace the tracks on the site with these? All the best, Dave
• Stuart kindly did just that.. Read Our Mail
I first met Bob Grover in 1976. Intense, hunched, with the pallor of milk-fed veal and eyes like pissholes in the snow; the next four years of my life would be dedicated to his vision. We were the first Brighton band of the punk era to nose our way out of a small but highly active scene and gain wider acceptance.
What marked us out (apart from that all-playing-the-same-chord-at-the-same-time thing) was a distinctive take on life emanating largely from between Bob's ears. Reg was a qualified sparks who could rustle PA equipment and plugboards out of nowhere. Dické had street credibility (coming from Lewes). Zoot Alors was the art school influence. I could count up to four without checking on my fingers. But Bob - Bob gave us weltanschauung.
Eventually the welt and its wife - including John Peel, Robert Smith and Jerry Dammers - beat a path to our Sunday night gigs at the Alhambra on Brighton seafront. For a while we enjoyed cult status and a reputation as a live act. There is no significant bodily function that I have not performed in the back of a Transit van.
It was at the Alhambra too that the infamous Pete Waterman saw us, the man who was eventually to give us our first, and as it turned out, fatal taste of chart success. Ironically enough, having survived years of slogging up and down the M1; after a tragIc car crash which killed our Road Manager, Dave Bullock, and hospitalized other members; after poverty, hardship, the Anti-Piranha League (APL), contractual wranglings, bad drugs, bad sex, bad food and the day-to-day rigours of living that vision, it was getting into the Top Ten that finally polished us off.
Most of the Piranhas' tracks on the Vaultage Punk Collection CD (issued in 1997 to commemorate 20 years of punk music), came from an album that was never released. It was junked in favour of a marginally more commercial re-recording that came out to accompany the single Tom Hark. Shortly after its release we split up.
Although Bob went on to a new line-up and another hit single (Zambesi), I don't think it would upset anyone unduly to claim that the original line-up represented on the CD, was the
Some ideas, some of the best ideas, aren't built to last. Having sung the joys of loserdom so long, perhaps we just weren't equipped for the triumphalist Eighties. Whatever.
Since then, of course, bands like Pulp and Blur have visited similar territory. The Piranhas might not have lasted but the strand in popular music they represent - eccentric, eclectic and defiantly English - did.
John Helmer, Brighton, June 1997.
Observer Magazine March 1978
The Sunday supplement, published 32 years ago, featured a double page photo spread of the Piranhas in their police uniforms. Strangely there was no accompanying article. Just a paragraph of the usual cliches that journalists love so much. Excellent photomontage of the band in full colour. preview or download it now