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Thee Headcoats



During his remarkably prolific 20-year career, Thee Headcoats frontman Billy Childish has been an avatar of DIY punk rock independence, releasing dozens of no-fi records on a variety of little labels around the world -- to say nothing of the dozens of novels and books of poetry and the hundreds of paintings he has produced. He is the ultimate punk rock renaissance man, and his relative lack of notoriety only heightens his mystique.

Childish hit the ground running in late '70s punk rock London with his first band The Pop Rivets. After a couple of messy garage-punk releases that band dissolved and Childish teamed with a couple of Rivets roadies to form the Milkshakes. Childish's subsequent projects have included Thee Mighty Caesars, the Delmonas, the Natural Born Lovers, and of course the great Headcoats.

Thee Headcoats -- consisting of singer/guitarist Childish, drummer Bruce Brand, and bassist Jonny Johnson -- were the garage-punk kings of the world during their decade-plus career, which ended in 1999. Their music featured all the elements that made Childish a cult figure: raucous, irrepressible energy, astonishing emotional directness, and sly subtle humor in spades -- oh, and an undying love for American blues and British punk, the two influences that have always informed Childish's musical output.

Thee Headcoats' sound was incredibly lo-fi; as you listen to Childish's dirty guitar and accented vocals, you really feel like you're right there in the garage with him, drinking whiskey and hanging out. Sophisticated production has never been the point for Childish, and neither has technical prowess. He has always focused on the visceral, the immediate, the honest -- and that's what you hear when listening to Thee Headcoats. You also hear the sound of a serious band that took nothing seriously, a bunch of mischievous pranksters who never cracked smiles. Despite the fact that they never do anything especially innovative -- every Childish song is in essence a tribute to the music he loves -- Thee Headcoats' music quickly begins to sound like the most original and personable music you've ever heard.

Thee Headcoats put out 11 records during their time together. "I'm Unkind," "This Wondrous Day," and "It Ain't Mine" all come from the band's 1996 effort, Knights of the Baskervilles. Since Thee Headcoats' breakup, Childish has moved on to two new projects, the Friends of the Buff Medway Fancyers Association (or The Buff Medways for short) and Swedish Erotica.