Post-punk Punditry: The Blogging Goth a Talking Head?

venice2It’s been a busy time for The Blogging Goth. I’ve been on my travels, with a week in beautiful Venice – a desperate attempt to submerge myself in continental culture before the bigots put up the fences.

I fielded the thirty-plus temperatures like any renaissance Englishman would, with a cream linen suit that would not have looked out of place on the rosy-red steps of Petra, for example. In this instance, the homeland of Machiavelli and Lucrezia Borgia opened its welcoming arms to us.

venice1We also visited an island of the dead. Not one of your tired, hackneyed ‘zombie’ attempts, but an entire cultivated islet totally reserved as the hallowed ultimate home of the great, good, or just fabulously wealthy.
Imagine an entire landmass – albeit not a large one – permanently in a reverent hush. We even snuck past barriers to visit the graves of Ezra Pound and Joseph Brodsky, literature fans. A highlight in a beautiful trip, and I heartily recommend Isola di San Michele to all respectful fans of final resting places.


On returning to the United Kingdom, I plunged back into the mechanics behind the scenes of The Blogging Goth. For the past few years, and mainly through the offices of The Doctor (the patient and pulchritudinous other half of my life) I’ve been attending the exciting academic adventures of the Gothic Manchester Festival as arranged by Manchester Metropolitan University. You can read a Storify of last year’s Symposium over here, where I’ve tried to distill a day of far-ranging papers and discussions in creativity of the Gothic down into a single web-page.

manchester-gothicCrucially, the festival is not purely academic-focused, with all papers encouraged to be as accessible to the general public as possible, and the doors thrown open to all and sundry. In pursuit of the same, I’m pleased to announce I am joining the roster of speakers on this year’s topic, “The Gothic North”.

My paper is titled “Dark, Satanic Music: Gothic Sound, Subculture and the North of England”. I will investigate the importance of the post-industrial North asisters-storynd its influence on the burgeoning Goth subculture of the late Seventies and Eighties; placing Leeds, Manchester, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy and Le Phonographique in a commentary on counterculture style and sound that is often overshadowed by the capital.

All are welcome to attend this panel, on Saturday 22nd October at 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, the former Cornerhouse. You can order tickets online, and remember there are events throughout the weekend as part of the festival as well as the Symposium itself! As always, I’ll be regularly present on social media throughout the event so ensure you keep us followed!


Just how important is the North to the Goth subculture? Join us again in the beating black heart of the scene, the People’s Republic of West Yorkshire, where Goth City Festival is clawing its way from the grave.
Local megalomaniac, impresario and owner of fabulous hair Joel Heyes has organized an extravaganza of events, music, drinking, dancing, and talking in Goth Ground Zero.

goth-city-flyerThis time, I’ll be joining an entire panel of experts to dissect the hoary remains of the First City of Goth, that northern nexus that is Leeds.

“Black Planet – Leeds Goth in Perspective’ is a meeting and discussion on the origins, background and history of the goth scene in Leeds and Yorkshire, and will be a unique opportunity to hear stories, anecdotes and ideas on the development of the scene.

Speakers arranged are:
Rosie Garland (writer, performer and March Violets singer)
John Keenan (Leeds alternative music promoter)
Karl Spracklen (Professor of Leisure Studies, Leeds Beckett University)
Tim Synystyr (journalist and A Blogging Goth)
Chair: Joel Heyes (Goth City Promotions)

Held in Leeds Six – naturally – you can register your interest in this one of a kind event on Facebook, and ensure you investigate all the possibilities to wallow in Goth this festival offers you. All credit must go to the unstoppable energy of Joel, who I thank deeply for the invitation to participate, and salute his goal to give all proceeds to PAFRAS (Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers).

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There are two opportunities to discover and explore our rich Gothic heritage with a host of expert guides, and myself – as well as the chance to drink and dance like it’s 1985 all over again. Stranger Things is testament that we never stopped loving the creativity of the Golden (or should that be Smouldering?) Age of Goth, so travel ‘Oop North and back in time with us!

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Punk at Forty: 1976 to Now

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Journalists work like historians – we look for root causes, flash points, and key dates. History was unarguably made on June 4th 1976 in Manchester, when a couple of lads from The Buzzcocks put on the second ever gig to feature some anarchic bastards called the Sex Pistols.

We can state conclusively that punk really started there and then, with the Sex Pistols meteoric rise and their catastrophic fall. The subculture itself would follow, defiantly flaming out as the Eighties approached. Punks are still amongst us of course, and embers continued to smoulder, most notably in the hearts of the chosen few in that audience on June 4th.

I’m grateful to journalist Dave Nolan who sifted all the evidence from the thousands of people who claimed to be at a gig we know was only attended by up to forty people.

We know categorically that Morrissey was there. It wouldn’t be until 1982 that he formed The Smiths, and became the controversy courting cerebral crooner we still laud and lambast today.

Even more critically, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook would go out the following day and buy guitars – later with Ian Curtis they would form the legendary Joy Division.
Their future manager, Tony Wilson, was also in the crowd. He would describe Joy Division as having a sound that was ‘Gothic compared to the mainstream’ and a blueprint for a brand new subculture was formed.

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Tony Wilson, 1991

The seeds of Goth, inheritor of the legacy of Punk as the UK’s dominant alternative subculture, were undoubtedly sown exactly forty years ago today. I hope you’ll put some punk on, spike your hawk up, and get those studded leathers out of the cupboard. Remember where it all began, and ensure it never comes to an end!

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World Goth Day 2016: The Goths Write Back

A fantastic sight, before lunchtime on an otherwise lazy Sunday! World Goth Day is officially upon us, and social media is whipping up a storm of coverage and conversation!

wgd1The two articles I contributed to are online now – in The Independent newspaper, and on the BBC3 website respectively. Who knew there was a Goth Waterpark in Tennessee? Not I, but a holiday seems necessary!

I repeatedly state in interviews and everywhere I write that we should be proud of Goth, a rich subcultural heritage stretching back three decades and showing no signs of stopping yet.
Today feels like such a concrete realisation of that, and I can’t thank DJs Cruel Britannia and martin oldgoth for starting it.

As with all journalists, Kashmira at the Independent wasn’t able to keep more than a tenth of what I sent her, so I’ve reproduced some of her excellent questions and my rambling answers below, for my take on the subculture and World Goth Day specifically.

Keep contributing to #WorldGothDay as well, and remember you’re part of a massive, longstanding community that deserves recognition at least once a year!

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All Goths Eve: The Night before World Goth Day

wgd-bannerGood evening all, I hope you are preparing to be proud of who you are, as it is World Goth Day on May 22nd! Once again, all our thanks to DJ Cruel Britannia and DJ Martin OldGoth for giving us a day to get our Goth on!

Tomorrow, I’ll be plugged into as much social media as I can manage. Ideally, I’ll be doing this from a bar in Newcastle with at least a jukebox I can put a decent playlist on, or the friendly rock surroundings of Trillians Rock Bar in city centre. I attempted belatedly to organise an event, and had DJs… but no venue. Next year!

Photo Credit gadgetsinfoavailable.blogspot.co.ukI’ll also be sharing a couple of articles I contributed to – BBC3 and The Independent newspaper both reached out to me for comments, which is really heartening.
I’ve maintained that a key objective of The Blogging Goth is to be a resource for journalists, so we don’t end up with inaccurate, laughable or dangerous articles in the press – I trust both the journalists I’ve spoken to, to do a good job. These will be published tomorrow.

If you’ve spoken to the media about being Goth, please let us know! I’d love to share your stories and the way it’s presented in the press. Challenging negative presumptions about depression, devil worship and deadbeat teenagers is something we should all feel passionately about.

a9ftZ88HStay involved with #WorldGothDay on social media, and let us know what you’re up to.
A big issue with the Goth scene is its fractured, tribal nature – even from city to city, here in the tiny United Kingdom, there is a disconnect between local urban scenes. It can be easy to forget there’s a worldwide subculture out there that we’re all a part of.
That’s just one more good reason to have a day to celebrate each year.

So whatever you’re doing, keep it dark and delightful. See you out there!

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WGW April 2016: Saturday Night Live Music!

Have you read our review of the Friday Night at Whitby Goth Weekend April 2016? Click to head back, or read on to hear about the Saturday lineup at the UK’s premier Goth music event!

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WGW April 2016: Friday Night Reviews

wgw-new-bannerThe decompression time from Whitby Goth Weekend is getting worse! So chase away those blues with my belated reviews of the storming bands that filled the Spa for April 2016 WGW! As always, my thanks to the talented Mel Butler Photography for choice pick of her quality pics!

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On The Web in Hull: Spiders Nightclub

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Mention the city of Kingston-upon-Hull to anyone vaguely alternative in the UK, and chances are they’ll tell you ‘Spiders Rocks’! It’s possibly one of the most formidable nightclubs in the country, running consistently since 1979.

That longevity probably owes to their stubborn resistance to playing dance, modern R&B or anything popular – which meant a lot of sidelined music genres ended up taking refuge at Spiders, in weird proximity to each other! Even when I started going, at the end of the Nineties, I knew you could hear Motown and Soul and Blues upstairs. It was downstairs where you could hear rock, punk, metal, indie and even some Goth.

The Blogging Goth, right, at Spiders in 2005. Stereotypical Snakebite and Black is author's own.

The Blogging Goth, right, at Spiders in 2005.

This was a holdover, of course, from the club’s contemporary music policy during the Eighties, the Golden Age of Goth. By the time I arrived, however, the DJs were catering to the broad crowds of pop punk and rap metal fans, and grudgingly allowed just a handful of classic Goth tracks spread thinly throughout the night.

For me, the clearest symbol of that proud heritage as a Goth venue were the black-and-white framed photos of punters from the Eighties on the wall approaching the cloakrooms. For many, many weekends as I waited to check my jacket, I’d gaze at those photos of Goths and Punks and envy them living through the rise of my favourite music genre.

So I was delighted to see that the photographer who originally took them has put them online, and is seeking his old friends to get in touch with memories and anecdotes of Spiders Nightclub.

If you have any recollections or recognize yourself and friends, please contact Andy Roe, who is considering writing a book about this infamous venue. I look forward to enjoying even more of the history of a place personally important to me, that was also vital to the developing alternative scene in the Eighties – and has remained a safe haven for it ever since!

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