A Fan Wrote...
Letters to the Neurotics on what the band means to these individuals
Wow. Umm... Hi.
My name is Rich Wasson.
And i should start by saying i'd never even considered that you might have a facebook page. I'm not really a social media kind of guy
But what i most want to say is that for decades i have outspokenly listed the newtown neurotics among my all-time favorite bands. And in the last ten or fifteen years, you have settled nicely next to paul k & the weathermen and the jam as my three favorite bands period.
After which fall the likes of the kinks, the who, sham 69, stiff little fingers, tom robinson band, new model army and some others. Phil ochs and townes van zandt and utah phillips are high up there too, but not exactly bands. As individual artists they are unequaled.
Van morrison, nick cave, tom waits.
But there is an amazing "spiritual" connection i have always felt with the neurotics. (Please excuse my failure to think of a more appropriate word, but i feel confident that you will know what i mean.)
I heard you first when i was 17 (i am currently 44). It was the version of mindless violence with the spoken word part done by atilla. And i was awestruck.
Kick out the tories was next, and i loved it too. Oh no and no sanctuary and fools all spoke directly to me as an 18 year old in 1988-89.
And then i purchased kickstarting a backfiring nation. And i knew. Right then i knew that this was an extraordinary band.
The way you used stories to paint pictures of the real-world effects of the class-struggle.
And one thing i've always admired and respected about you and certain other bands that spawned from similar pools (specifically i am thinking of stiff little fingers & tom robinson...but billy bragg, subhumans & conflict too...and others) is that there was a very real and sincere attempt to drive the point home that women are not in any way inferior to men and should in no way ever be seen as subservient. That respect for women as human beings...not just as "girls" was one of the most obvious things in the world. And that traditional gender roles were bullshit.
That whole album is brilliant and beautiful.
And became a serious influence upon me since.
It wasn't until years later that i heard the songs "wake up"(i think it's called), stand up & fight", "screaming", & "my death". And again....i felt like i was listening to something that absolutely must have been written just for me.
Anyway...i have many other things to say but too many things i have to do.
I just wanted you to know how profoundly you have personally affected the life of one long-time fan.
Your music and the beliefs and the pain and joy and the insight and wisdom of the individuals making the music have meant so much to me over the last 27 years.
It's taken me a long time to write this letter - 6 years to be precise. 1982 was when I first heard the band and realised that you were going to be, for me at least, important. Nah, make that vital.
In the years that followed I didn't miss a release or an infrequent interveiw ( I've still got my copy of "Punk Lives" which has Steve on the cover with chips up his nose!). In short you took me from the age of 17 through to my early 20's- I grew up with your records and with your social commentaries.
Your values became by and large mine- you politicised me, helped me find a conscience in a nation that doesn't care and for that I shall be FOREVER grateful. You seemed like a voice of sanity in a world gone mad.
Over the years your name brought blank stares from friends and workmates ( I work for the dept. of Employment! Ah fate.) Just not interested y'know? and that's what saddens me- I care about the Neurotics - Yeah, I know that sounds corny but it's true, so it make me angry to think that so few others seem to.
Quite simply you were/are the best political pop band I can think of, S.A.W (that's Stock, Atkin and Waterman, not so obvious as time goes on. ed) would kill for those tunes! The lyrics? To me you learned to talk and converse where the Redskins sloganeered, where That Petrol Emotion mumbled and the Clash scratched their heads. Just 'cos you ain't rich it doesn't mean you don't matter! For me you're worth a million U2's with their half-baked philosophies and "important" gestures.
When I listen to a Neurotics Lp the word that comes to mind most is PRIDE. It's right in there - it permeates ever groove and it's how I feel now even though tears would be more appropriate! You see I'm proud to be one of the few people (I think) who feel that they have been changed by you - had their political leanings hardened and crystalised by your songs of defiance and I'm going to miss you now your gone.
This is why I wish I'd written a long time ago to let you know how I feel and what I think, but you seemed permanent somehow, an institution! Like Red telephone boxes...I'm not much for having heroes - and I doubt if you'd want to be percieved as such but, fuck it, you're about as close as I've come to a band that's worth respecting at worst.
It makes me sad that I'll never now see you live. I'm going to regret not being there to shake your hands, buy you a beer and just tell you I'm a fan. I really wish you hadn't split.
Listen to me! Drivelling on about a band from Harlow (where?) that wouldn't know a Gold Disc if it fell on them and whose only T.V appearence was on Newsnight! (yup! I saw that too!) You really shouldn't matter to me much but you do, such is the power of music! Indeed I feel as bad as I did when Aberdeen lost the Skol Cup Final. (Might not sound much to you but coming from me that's pretty close to the ultimate accolade).
I better close now before the tears start blurring the the ink, but like I say, I'll miss you fellas. Stay Lucky.
ps. REFORM YOU BASTARDS!!
Dear Mr. Steve Drewett,
It seems weird sitting here writing a letter to someone I've never met, yet who has had such a profound impact on my life, but somehow it seemed like the right thing to do.
I'm sure this is neither the first nor the last letter you'll get from a gracious fan, but I just had to say thank- you. I have been active in the local punk scene here for roughly fourteen years and the Newtown Neurotics have long been a favorite of mine.
Your passionate lyrics restored a much needed sense of conscience that had long been lacking in punk, in a time when I was losing friends I cared about, once good but confused people, to the fatalistic stupidity of the 'gluehead' hardcore punk bands' mentality or the paranoid xenophobia of Skrewdriver and their ilk. Your words helped to articulate so many things I was struggling to make sense of, from the intelligent condemnations of 'Mindless Violence' to the frustrated introspection of 'Hypocrite' or the absurdity-theatre of 'Does Anyone Know Where The March Is?'.
The three of you effectively bridged the political with the personal for me, showing by example that having a good time and maintaining one's political/ethical stance aren't mutually exclusive. On an April morning just this year, I was driving to the hospital to say goodbye to someone who was passing away that I have loved so much, and put in one of my old punk rock mixed tapes to try to keep my mind busy. The song that blared to life happened to be 'This Fragile Life', one which I have always liked and identified with, but which took on a new personal relevance in the context of that difficult April morning. I cannot thank you enough for helping make sense of so much for me throughout the course of my life.
On a lighter note, I have had a band of my own for some six years now (a three- piece as well! Three often seems best, with everyone putting their own weight ... ) which began when I met our bass player, who came up to me at a concert to ask me about the 'Newtown Neurotics' on the back of my jacket (another fan!). All three of us have been touched by your music, as we play a style of punk heavily influenced by you guys, as well as Chron Gen, the Jain, Chelsea, Mega City Four, SLF, Clash, 999, Stadets, Members, Alternative TV, etc... Also, do you have any info regarding how I could purchase badges, albums, shirts or other merchandise? It's hard to find good old vinyl records here, especially since I don't have the intemet, and am relegated to hunting at record collector conventions. I should wrap this up, but thank you for letting me ramble on at you at length, and most of all, thank you for the geat music.
I'm not sure what to say here; I wouldn't usually bother with writing to a band I was adding on this site as it's purpose tends to be so that I might hear if a band I like is doing anything I'm interested in. This one seems different, like an email might actually be read by the person in question.
So here it is; A while back I was reading this book called Burning Britain (you may have heard of it) and I either knew well or wasn't interested in most of the bands. You, I'd never even heard of but the description in the book got my attention. All cards on the table, I downloaded what I was able to find - I work in a restaraunt, I can't afford to buy a cd every time I think I might like something - and I am so excited about your band. This is exactly the kind of music that has had the most affect on me, that continues to be the most immediate and powerful to me. It looks like what I found was "the punk collection" and now I'm going to have to go and buy it, as well as anything else I can find, just so I can pore over the art and liner notes as if I was a kid again.
I've never been into music in that record collector, slightly removed sort of way; I get into music on a gut level and am moved by it. Every once in a while I find something that just blows me away, that I relate to, that maybe helps give me that will to continue to do things that I feel might improve this world, that just inspires me. I can always tell when something is that new amazing thing too and this feels to me like when I first discovered New Model Army, Toots And The Maytals, The Clash, Wipers or something.
So though I am a relatively new fan, I'm thanking you right off for some music that I know is going to stick with me and score moments in my life for a long time.
The Neurotics: Steve Drewett - Simon Lomond - Colin Dredd.