Murder the Disturbed rise again

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EXPECT energy from a Washington band originally formed in the zenith of punk, who’ve come together once more to keep the message of the movement alive.

From early 1978 to late 1979, Murder the Disturbed became famed in the area for their faintly alarming stage presence.

Formed in Concord, the teenagers went on to release a celebrated EP, Genetic Disruption, before splitting and going their separate ways.

Today, they’re back with a different line-up, but the same ethos of making audiences sit up and listen.

Speaking about the early days, John Farrer, one of the founding members, said: “Me and Chris Mordey (bass) were good friends and really wanted to find people with a similar way of thinking, and who had drums and a guitar we could use.

“In those days we only had one car between us and had to move our equipment in a wheelbarrow, so if you had instruments you were in.

“For us, punk was a way of being, rather than a style of music.

“It was something that cemented us together as a way of expressing who we were.

“Almost like a religion, a way of identifying personalities. The punk movement was very much a light bulb moment.”

Not everyone identified with punk and reaction to the band’s early gigs proved hostile. So much so, it sparked a name change.

John, who is now a youth worker in Northumberland, explained: “Everyone wanted a name that began with The, which is why we went with The Disturbed.

“When we performed, a lot of people would be upset, they would attack us on stage, they couldn’t cope with these young kids on stage with their hair dyed who didn’t look disco pristine.

“So we changed it to Murder The Disturbed. They wanted to beat us up back then, but people just smile when we tell them the story behind the name now.”

In the height of their short-lived success, their three-track EP Genetic Disruption, released by Small Wonder Records, reached number six in the alternative chart, above the likes of The Cure.

“That was a real pinch yourself moment,” recalls John. “We had never performed outside of the North East and then our record was being played on John Peel’s show and being featured in Melody Maker.”

No sooner were they reaching out to a wider audience, the band split after the departure of Steve “Zodiac” Mintoe.

John said: “There was no animosity, but it felt like a bereavement and it was difficult for us to continue without him. It just didn’t feel the same.”

Today the band are back with John on vocals, Chris Mordey on bass, Chris Gibbin on guitar and Adam Lynam on drums.

“Five or six years ago, we decided it would be a good idea to get back together and finish off what we started, and to gig around the North East and keep the punk message going,” said John.

Two of the band’s most anticipated appearances are at The Squat, a punk night in Newcastle later this month, and at Sunderland’s Split Festival in August.

So what can audiences expect?

John explains: “I do like recording and writing, but performing is great, it’s all about the theatre and projection of the message. People can expect a lot of energy from our sets.”

l The Squat, which features sets from The Borstal Babies, Murder The Disturbed and Euan Lynn, is at The Star and Shadow Theatre, Ouseburn, on June 20. Admission is £3 in advance or on the door. Visit www.starandshadow.org.uk

l Split Festival is in Mowbray Park on August 9 and 10. Tickets are available from www.splitfestival.com.