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Theatre Of Hate iTunes Tracks Kirk Brandon Official Website

Theatre Of Hate

+ {The Pack} + {Kirk Brandon’s 10:51}

An apocalyptic post-punk act rather than regularly typecast as goths, captain Kirk Brandon (born 2rd August 1956, Westminster, London) would use THEATRE OF HATE as his stepping stone to success a la SPEAR OF DESTINY. Both bands having drip-fed the future rock music scene with alumni that could fill a fantasy league of a band (Billy Duffy, Nigel Preston, to name but two from TOH), songsmith/guitarist Brandon was the ultimate catalyst, the complete post-LYDON package, and a pseudo-soothsayer poseur with an acidic high-octane vocal that could strip paint at ten paces.
Initially trading under The PACK, a punk outfit from London, formed in 1978, guitarist Simon Werner, his brother Jonathan (bass) and Scots-born drummer Rab Fae Beith (alias Robert Fallon) would augment Brandon in his inaugural outings on record; `Heathen’ and `Brave New Soldiers’ became their self-financed double-A debut from February ’79. Tantamount to a free transfer from the ever-evolving PiL (PUBLIC IMAGE LTD), Jim Walker superseded The WALL-bound Beith for sophomore single `King Of Kings’ (b/w `Number 12’); a one-off release on Rough Trade Records.
A new decade, a new enterprising moniker, THEATRE OF HATE were pieced together by Brandon, who roped in former school-chum Steve Guthrie (guitar), Canadian-born John Boy Lennard (saxophone/clarinet), Luke Rendle (drums) and ex-Epileptics bassist Stan Stammers; the latter incidentally performed with Brandon’s final PACK posse when they re-appeared as The STRAPS. Reunited on manager Terry Razor’s S.S. Label, THEATRE OF HATE assumed the No.1 position in the indie charts with their glorious double-A sided `Original Sin’ and `Legion’.
So, armed with several songs, but nothing further cut in the studio as yet, Brandon had to succumb to allow Razor to release a live set, HE WHO DARES WINS: Live At The Warehouse Leeds (1981) {*6}. Recorded that January (27th to be precise), a handful of tracks duly re-appeared as 45s throughout the year for the less controversial imprint, Burning Rome; Guthrie had now departed. The haunting and high-powered `Rebel Without A Brain’ (b/w `My Own Invention’) and the 12-inch `Nero’ (b/w “Incinerator’) – seminal singles both – had no trouble selling out their initial pressings, while demand was such for anything TOH, Brandon had to beat-off the bootleggers by delivering another concert document: the cassette-only LIVE AT THE LYCEUM (1981) {*5}; note too that a third live LP, also entitled HE WHO DARES WINS {*6} – at the Tempodron in West Berlin on 12th September 1981 – was sold at gigs as the group promoted their studio debut set.
1982 kicked off in dramatic fashion when `Do You Believe In The Westworld’ dented the Top 40, while the aforesaid parent album WESTWORLD {*9} dug its heels into the Top 20 for a week. Produced by CLASH guitarist Mick Jones (who’d also performed on the record), the thumping Native-American tribal rhythms (think SIOUXSIE backed by The SKIDS) and the holier-than-thou socio-political sentiments of howling Kirk were the hallmarks of such edgy pieces such as `Conquistador’, `Propaganda’, `Poppies’, `Judgement Hymn’ and the aesthetic `Love Is A Ghost’; on occasion Lennard’s twilight sax lines added an air of desolation.
Although the band were beginning develop their pulverising rhythmic assault, Brandon was set in his ways. Adding guitarist Billy Duffy (ex-Nosebleeds) to allow his inner “choirboy-punk” motif to sing from his pulpit (Rendle’s berth taken by Nigel Preston), `The Hop’ single – procuring an ENNIO MORRICONE “Spaghetti” dint – did not fair so well sales-wise, while the complete failure of the Middle-Eastern-themed `Eastworld’ baffled most pundits, more so Brandon and a (Death) CULT-bound Duffy, who’d already wrapped up THEATRE OF HATE.
Major label interest always burrowing in the mind of Brandon, now he and Stammers were free to let the inevitable take its course through SPEAR OF DESTINY. Allowed to maintain his independence via the Burning Rome banner, Epic Records won the battle, releasing the BIG COUNTRY-esque `Flying Scotsman’ (from debut set `Grapes Of Wrath’) to a muted response.
Despite this one-way-ticket to nowheresville in ‘83, SPEAR OF DESTINY finally came up trumps with several effective albums, peaking commercially in ’87 with `Outland’, all the greater for including their only major hit, `Never Take Me Alive’.
The said group in hiatus, the main man pursued his old mucker Stammers who was residing in Philadelphia. Recording an album’s worth of material with Americans John McNutt (guitar) and Art Smith (drums), Kirk’s return to Britain interested Anagram Records enough to suggest a release date. As not to confuse fans of both TOH and SOD, both `Children Of The Damned’ and its parent set STONE IN THE RAIN (1995) {*5} were credited to KIRK BRANDON’S 10:51; it featured a cover of BOWIE’s `Heroes’. A year later, to add a certain appeal to the album, Dojo Records of America “re-Brandoned” a modified set and delivered it as RETRIBUTION billed as THEATRE OF HATE.
Receiver Records in Britain were happy to accommodate a re-vamped THEATRE OF HATE (minus Stammers, but with Knut Knutson – ex-Peacock Palace) for a Montpellier, France-recorded RETRIBUTION OVER THE WESTWORLD – LIVE 1996 {*5}.
It was around this time that Brandon – married in 1994 to a Danish woman, Christina – sued BOY GEORGE for “malicious falsehoods” he’d published in his autobiography (Take It Like A Man), about Kirk’s sexuality; published by Sidgwick and Jackson. In the aftermath of a case that was obviously bitter and derogatory, KB lost and was ordered to pay most of the legal costs, which ultimately left him bankrupt. Beleaguered, but clearly not beaten, Brandon re-emerged in 1997, as the TOH alumni confusingly turned into a re-vamped SPEAR OF DESTINY; a tutor at BIMM, the singer re-formed THEATRE OF HATE in 2012. Fast-forward three years on 12-13th September, a solo KIRK BRANDON (with Sam Sansbury) performed “aKoustiK” gigs at The Islington in London. In a sad footnote, Simon Werner died on 26 November 2010.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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