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THE ADICTS began life as the Afterbirth & The Pinz, in their hometown of Ipswich back in late 1975. They scored many Indie Chart hits in the Eighties, and are unbelievably still together, and still making great music, with the same line-up – Keith ‘Monkey’ Warren, vocals; Mel Ellis, bass; Pete Dee Davison, guitar; and Michael ‘Kid Dee’ Davison, drums – to this day. Newer members are John Scruff Ellis (Mel’s brother) guitar.
“I think we all started for different reasons,” recalls Monkey, of their distant origins. “Pete and Kid moved to Ipswich from Sunderland were already playing on their own, using pillows for drums in the front room.
Mel had just failed the audition for Nick Kershaw’s band (too tall apparently) and I was a punk without a cause. Exactly what year that was may vary depending on who you talk to.
Some say ’75, some say ’76. I think I have a flyer from March ’76, but before that we had played our first show in a scout hut in Aldburgh, Suffolk – not exactly top of the list for all time top punk venues! We strung a rope across the room to keep the ‘crowd’ back and had a motor bike for a lighting rig. As far as our musical education goes, I think Pete took music at school, and Kid just liked to hit things. I don’t know where Mel got his ‘talent’ from but it seems to run in the family. I still can’t play anything.”
They soon changed their name to THE ADICTS and became known for their distinctive Clockwork Orange ‘Droog’ image, which, along with their urgent, uptempo music and light-hearted lyrics, helped set them very much apart from the rest of the genre.
“We became THE ADICTS because The Pinz was such a shit name,” deadpans Kid. “At the early gigs we just used to wear punk clothes, but never anything bought, like those posers who went down to Kings Road. After a while though, black came in and it all became boring, so we started to dress in white to be different, and ‘Clockwork Orange’ had been a major influence on us, though not for the violence, more the teenage angst…”
“The ‘Clockie’ thing didn’t really evolve until about 78/79 ‘Songs Of Praise’ came out in 1981,” reckons Monkey. “And the image is an amalgam of many things. It may have been a conscious effort to set ourselves against the somewhat unimaginative appearance of early ’80s punk bands or just a perception that looking a certain way might be interesting and entertaining.
We got some stick from some of the self-appointed ‘real’ punk bands for not being punk enough, or whatever, but I don’t remember anyone really making an issue of the image… other than saying I must be a poof!”But before the aforementioned ‘Songs Of Praise’ debut album, the band spent several years gigging and building up a strong local following. They even managed, after their very first London show, at The Brecknock, to secure an – albeit basic, to say the least – deal with Dining Out Records, who released the ‘Lunch With THE ADICTS‘ EP in 1979. It was a scintillating, cock-sure debut, surprisingly well executed for an opening gambit, and featured four songs, two of which remain constants in the band’s live set even today: the pounding mid-tempo ‘Easy Way Out’ and the irresistible ‘Straight Jacket’.