In 1976 Britain was run by a widely hated conservative government, faced large-scale social unrest and riots on its streets. Out of this deluge of bad feeling came a musical movement that changed the way we think, dress and most importantly the entire face of the music industry. London saw the emergence of bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned all playing at the now esteemed 100 Club on Oxford St.
Cut to 2012 and a new band following in the lineage of great British punk bands took to the 100 Club stage in support of The Vaccines. Zulu, a 5-piece group from the capital are a band with all the swagger and talent to interest many. While the band have only been playing for around a year they have already received a good deal of attention – and for once it’s for the right reasons.
Their ‘Way Of The Zulu’ mixtape, released as a special addition cassette on Stroll On Records, is made up of 8 demos and is an electrifying collection of tunes. With a huge range of influences, including an air of rockabilly, American punks The Cramps and The Misfits as well as maintaining a raw British punk thread.
Their stand-out song to date is the Cramps-esque ‘Sistine Chapel’, a short sharp shock of a song that for a really new band is impressively complex. Lead singer Luke Brennan’s lyrics see him taking a one man stand against the rest of the world passive tendencies, “They all walk around following / led by their eyes and not their minds / how can they tell its not a lie their told”. This is exactly the kind of social commentary that punk has been missing in the last 20 years, an intelligent rebelliousness. Brennan screams “I got a Sisteen Chapel in my head”, a line that sums up the feeling of disenchanted youth who want to express themselves.
Brennan’s snarl recalls the best parts of Sid Vicious alongside a Johnny Rotten style delivery. Helpfully he is backed by a really tight rhythm section that pulsates energy through each song, and intermittently brilliant 50s guitar licks.
The name comes from bassist Louis Simonon’s favourite film and gives them something that all the best bands have, an effortless cool. Not only do they create intense vital music but also the bands style makes them anomaly theses days. In true DIY style have already started making handmade T-shirts to sell at gigs. They probably are already one of the coolest bands in London, cherry picking some of the more timeless clothes from the punk wardrobe and mixing it with 90’s football shirts and string vests. It’s refreshing to have an alternative to Hawaiian shirts and desert boots that dominate today’s bands.
Live, the band look a great night out, there are a few quick videos online that see Brennan leaping into the crowd (who are already going mental) to mosh while the bassist is smashing his fender against the drum kit. They have already supported fellow punks Iceage and done a handful of gigs in London with more to come, and according to their website (wayofthezulu.com) more demos are in the offing too.