We rock and roll obsessives are a thorough bunch. When we graduate from listening Sex Machine (Part 1) - Herodes Falsk - Born In Drammen mainstream bands to an ever-widening roster of deeper obscurities, we spend years digging through the bargain bins.
We spend hours scouring the Internet and YouTube for new bands and old bands that are new to us. Before the Internet, it was import music magazines and xeroxed fanzines that gave us our sacred texts and pointed the way to the holy rock and roll Crakers - Various - Electronic Hipster Vol.2. I've been a rock and roll obsessive for most of my life, since I was 13 and I'm now 45!
Especially when it's a band so up my alley, so perfectly suited to my musical tastes and aesthetic that I cannot believe I haven't run across them before. When you factor in that said bands' initial run of activity was in the early to mid 80's, it even seems more strange.
Such was the case when a band called Emptifish popped up in my Facebook feed one rainy Seattle morning. I found that the name of the band was Emptifish- kind of a shitty name, I thought at first- and their logo was of the type found mostly on 's psychobilly records. I was intrigued. More digging found a video or two on YouTube- really not much, considering.
One of the videos however was a jaw dropping revelation. It was a pro filmed clip of Es Wird Ja Alles Wieder Gut - William Greihs Mit Seinem SFB-Tanzorchester* - Beschwingte Tanzmusik fast, catchy, pummeling tune called "Surfboard" that showed the four stylish young men in their 80's heyday, clowning it up on a beach, walking moodily up and down stairs while dressed immaculately and performing gags that scanned like the Beatles in "A Hard Day's Night" meets "The Munsters".
It's a perfect surf-garage thumper of a tune, and they were smart enough to pair it with a great vintage aesthetic and the perfect stylishly wacky video.
I was sold. Not only was this a great lost band, but it was a criminally unknown classic that should be as popular as the Cramps and Los Straitjackets. Emptifish should have been a household word. So why wasn't it? Well, the answer in part lies in the band's hometown- Portsmouth, UK. Portsmouth is a port city on the southeast coast of England. It's population hovers in the area of , and it's the UK's only island city.
It has a population density to rival London, which lies only 65 miles northeast. Boys dressed like them, girls wanted boys Green Park Station - Earth And Fire - The Ultimate Collection looked like them, and their following was huge and particularly loyal.
Their audience was also particularly violent. Gigs erupted in huge fistfights, to the point where the band began to be banned from venue after venue. The Surfboard - Emptifish - Branksmere Sessions joke was "I went to a fight last night, and an Emptifish gig broke out. Emptifish did manage one gig at legendary London psychobilly venue the Klub Foot opening for the Meteors but mostly they stayed home in Portsmouth and played when and where they could.
I believe it is this reputation for violence that stunted the growth of the band, and made a group destined for greatness stop in its tracks. They did record a couple of great records for local labels- "The Branksmere Sessions" EP and the "I Want That Girl" single, which are now collectible and rare as hen's teeth. It's these recordings, along with unreleased tracks and a session from a reunion that make up the new retrospective LP on Detour Records, " the Best Of Emptifish".
This was arcane knowledge, obscure greatness! It comes with a great booklet that tells the Emptifish story in text and a slew of swank pics. It's a great record. Everything that Emptifish did revealed a greater cleverness and style than any of their so called peers from the era. They were smarter and sharper than Surfboard - Emptifish - Branksmere Sessions psychobilly band, and out posed and out rocked the rockabilly revival easily.
I would guess that their closest peer would have been Billy Childish, but they possessed a ramshackle, innocent sense of fun and a surfy bounce that the poet of Chatham never had.
It's sad when a band this great doesn't get their due, but it happens all the time in underground rock and roll. Fortunately though, the recent interest in Emptifish has prompted the band to reunite. There is a documentary being filmed about the band, and they are getting increasingly high profile gigs, including an upcoming opening slot for the Damned. The road to rediscovery has Surfboard - Emptifish - Branksmere Sessions been an easy one however.
Original bassist Ricky Sonic passed away inand guitarist Ian Sonic was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The band has paid their dues, learned hard lessons, and are making the most of what time they have left to rock and roll. They are still a suave bunch of motherfuckers, and they rock with an even Moca Flor - Wes Montgomery - Movin Wes ferocity than before.
If you are a fan of the Cramps, Billy Childish, surf music and "Nuggets" style garage punk- you need to Surfboard - Emptifish - Branksmere Sessions yourself a favor and check out Surfboard - Emptifish - Branksmere Sessions great Emptifish. Legends can only stay buried for so long.
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